The concept of "One Nation, One Election" has been a topic of considerable debate and discussion in the political landscape of India. Analysts argue that synchronizing all elections – from local panchayats to the Parliament – will bring about numerous benefits, including reduced election expenditure, better governance, and increased voter participation. While the idea has garnered both support and criticism from various quarters, it is essential to analyze how such a move might impact India's political landscape, particularly focusing on the potential advantages it could bring to the ruling BJP.
In recent years, the BJP has made significant strides by winning multiple state elections and subsequently forming the central government. Now, amid reports of speculation on the implementation of the simultaneous polls or One Nation One Election provision for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, it is learned that Law Commission officials are actively working on a formula to synchronize all assembly polls by extending or reducing the tenure.
According to news reports, the law commission aims to synchronize and thereby implement the one nation one election provision for India's election process by 2029 Lok Sabha Elections. Potentially, the implementation of "One Nation, One Election" could greatly favor the BJP and why –
One of the primary advantages of implementing "One Nation, One Election" is the substantial reduction in campaign costs. In India, political parties spend exorbitant amounts of money on election campaigns, from printing posters and pamphlets to organizing rallies and hiring campaign staff. With elections occurring at various levels throughout the year, this expenditure can be crippling for political parties, particularly smaller ones.
The BJP, being one of the largest and most well-funded political parties in India, is better equipped to handle these financial burdens. By synchronizing elections, smaller parties with limited resources will find it increasingly challenging to compete on an equal footing with the BJP. This financial advantage would enable the BJP to maintain a consistent and well-funded presence across the country, further solidifying its position as a dominant political force.
A unified election cycle would also allow political parties to allocate their resources more efficiently. Currently, parties need to divert significant resources towards election campaigns throughout the year, making it difficult to focus on governance and policy implementation. For a party as strong as BJP, efficient resource allocation could enhance its ability to deliver on its promises and maintain a proactive stance.
Furthermore, with synchronized elections, the BJP can strategically target key states and regions where it has a significant support base. By concentrating their efforts on these areas during the synchronized elections, they can maximize their chances of winning and expanding their influence.
Another factor that counts - anti-incumbency. It is a prevalent phenomenon in Indian politics, where voters often express their dissatisfaction with the ruling party by voting against it in subsequent elections. With multiple elections held at different times, the BJP, like any other party in power, is susceptible to anti-incumbency sentiments. However, the "One Nation, One Election" system could help mitigate this risk.
Under this system, the BJP would face the electorate only once every five years, at both the state and national levels. This extended duration between elections would provide the party with more time to implement policies and showcase their governance capabilities. If they perform well, it is less likely that voters would be swayed by anti-incumbency sentiment.
Another strategic advantage for the BJP in a synchronized election system is the ability to maintain a consistent national messaging strategy. Currently, with elections occurring at various times in different states, political parties often need to tailor their messages to suit local issues and sentiments. While this is necessary for effective campaigning, it can dilute the party's national message.
In contrast, a synchronized election system would allow the BJP to present a unified message to the entire nation, emphasizing its vision, accomplishments, and future plans. This consistent messaging would make it easier for voters to understand the party's agenda and make informed decisions.
Further, voter fatigue can also be considered as a factor. Frequent elections can lead to voter fatigue, where citizens become disinterested or disillusioned with the electoral process due to its continuous nature. This can result in lower voter turnout and unpredictable outcomes. The BJP, with its vast organizational reach and committed voter base, could be less affected by voter fatigue compared to smaller parties. However, the implementation of "One Nation, One Election" would benefit the BJP by reducing the risk of voter fatigue.
By holding all elections simultaneously, voters would only need to engage with the electoral process once every five years. This could lead to more enthusiastic and engaged voters, potentially favoring the BJP, which has consistently demonstrated its ability to mobilize its supporters effectively.
The BJP's success in recent years can also be attributed to its strategic planning and execution. With a synchronized election system, the party could plan its campaigns and alliances more effectively. Currently, the party needs to be prepared for elections in different states at various times, which can be logistically challenging. A single election cycle would simplify the planning process, allowing the BJP to allocate resources strategically and make informed decisions about candidate selection and campaign strategies.
Indian politics often involves coalition governments, where multiple parties come together to form a government due to the fragmented nature of the political landscape. While the BJP has succeeded in building alliances in various states, a synchronized election system could reduce the reliance on coalition politics.
Under such a system, the BJP, with its well-established party structure and national appeal, could have a better chance of securing a majority on its own in both state and national elections. This would enhance its autonomy and reduce its dependence on regional allies, providing more stability and decisiveness in governance.
The "One Nation, One Election" system would also enable the BJP to focus on long-term policy implementation. Currently, frequent elections can disrupt the continuity of policies and initiatives, as incoming governments often review and revise the policies of their predecessors. With a five-year election cycle, the BJP would have a better chance to implement its agenda and showcase its achievements over an extended period, which could resonate positively with voters.
Moreover, critics argue that synchronized elections may limit voter choice by forcing them to vote for the same party at both the state and national levels, even if their preferences differ.
Notably, since 2014, PM Modi has been advocating for ‘One Nation One Election’ stating that continuous election cycles are a financial burden and stalls development due to the model code of conduct.
The saffron party said that simultaneous elections will help ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly in "election mode". It will also reduce disruption of normal public life as political rallies will be kept to a minimum.
It’s performance in state elections is often inferior to what is does in Lok Sabha elections. Party leaders think that the simultaneous polls will result in overarching national issues, stripping regional agenda in the process.
It is pertinent to mention that it is the regional parties, and not the main opposition Congress, which have proved more resilient and successful in fighting the BJP.
While it is evident that the BJP could benefit strategically from the implementation of this system, it is essential to consider the broader implications for Indian democracy, federalism, and voter choice. Ultimately, the success of such a proposal would depend on building consensus among political parties, states, and the public. The BJP has a vested interest in advancing this idea and possibly, they are well ahead in implementing it soon.