The BJP had put forth an idea of ‘One nation, One Poll’ in the election manifesto released ahead of the Parliament elections in 2014.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised this concept in several contexts and also urged the people and political parties to contemplate seriously about it. He repeated the call on January 20, 2018. Achal Kumar Jyoti, the former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) who retired on January 23 and Om Prakash Rawat, the CEC who newly took charge have also backed this idea. Most recently, President Ram Nath Kovind during his policy address on Monday also called for a single election system. That is, it should be inferred that the central government and the BJP have already started their efforts to shape the public conscience of the nation towards the idea put forth in their election manifesto and to transform the electoral system gradually according to it.
The core of this idea is to hold the Parliament elections and the polls to different state assemblies simultaneously. NITI Ayog member Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai have been appointed to study about its prospects as well as the need for it and they have submitted a report on the matter. The recommendation of the said committee is to switch to the concept of simultaneous elections. They cite two main reasons for backing BJP’s idea. One of them is the huge financial burden when the elections are held at different times. With the support of the statistics, they argue that the expenditure could be reduced to a great extent if the polls are held simultaneously. Once the election is announced, the legal code of conduct will come into effect. When the polls are held at different times, the duration of the code of conduct also increases. This will adversely affect the development and official procedures. Besides these two reasons, those who back the idea argue that a single poll would be able to increase the polling rate. All these factors are true. These are popular reasons that are capable of easily attracting the people. But the democratic society should ruminate on the big agendas hidden behind those reasons.
The RSS has been nurturing a big dream of sabotaging the existing Parliamentary system and transforming the political order into a presidential system. Their strategy is to achieve that goal step by step. They believe that such a governance suits their hardcore nationalism. The idea of ‘one poll’ is actually the first step towards that goal. They believe that by creating a wave of aggressive nationalism and communalism at the national level and holding the elections simultaneously, they are the only ones to be benefited by that. Ours is a constitution based on a strong federalism that allows the utmost possible extent of autonomy to the states. It is this model that has given dignity to our country which is rich in diversity and sub-nationalities. At the same time, this federal set-up is something that poses hurdles to the frenzied nationalistic plans of the Sangh Parivar whose dream revels consists of one country, one culture one religion. And the idea for simultaneous elections is planned as an unmistakable political step towards the concept of a monolithic state. The Sangh Parivar put forward the idea of uniform civil code as part of the same agenda to achieve a monolithic state destroying cultural federalism. The Left parties, oblivious of such agenda, came forward to support that with enthusiasm. And now the Parivar has come out with the clamour for simultaneous elections to annihilate political federalism. The democratic forces of the country should identify this move in that very perspective, and come forward to defeat it. Or else those forces will have transformed the very character of the nation beyond a point of no return.