Short note on One Nation One Election Public Notice Common Cause

On January 15, 2024, Common Cause submitted its response to the proposal of the government to enable simultaneous elections in the country. The first election cycle for Lok Sabha and State Assemblies was held simultaneously post-independence in 1951-52 and was disrupted thereafter.

Common Cause analysed the reports of various statutory bodies and found a concurrence of opinion that the idea of a “One Nation One Election” is needed. The suggestions given were mostly based on the discussion paper of April 2017, by NITI Aayog. Making the Election Commission of India the nodal agency to look into Niti Aayog’s suggestion, it also recommended setting up a working group of stakeholders to decide on a road map for simultaneous elections.

The paper cited a few key adverse impacts that the existing electoral cycle has on development programs and governance due to the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the Election Commission, massive expenditures by the Government and other stakeholders, engagement of security forces for significantly prolonged periods and other ancillary issues.

Common Cause in its representation said that the MCC is enforced from the date of announcement of the election schedule by the Election Commission and is operational till the process of elections is completed and the imposition of the MCC merely prevents the party in power from attempting to misuse the executive power or to gain an unfair advantage over the opposing parties and candidates by attempting to unfairly tempt the voters. The MCC does not prevent routine policymaking or ongoing development work.

On unnecessary expenditure, the response was, should the nation be looking to create the ‘most effective’ democracy or the ‘least expensive’ democracy? Also, the ECI has pointed out several difficulties that might be encountered in conducting elections simultaneously, including the large-scale purchase of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines including its maintenance cost and storage costs. 

The hassle of engaging security forces for a significantly prolonged period was also countered.

The claim that frequent election leads to disruption of road traffic or perpetuate caste, religion and communal issues across the country could be taken care of.