(GIST OF YOJANA) One Nation-One Election

(GIST OF YOJANA) One Nation-One Election


One Nation-One Election


  • Elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies are held together if the terms of the Houses are ending around the same time. Sections 14 and 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, empower the Election Commission to notify elections any time during the last six months of the term of the House and not earlier than that. 
  • A lead time of twenty-five days from the date of notification is a statutorily required minimum period before a poll can be taken. The election schedule is announced a few days before the election notification as an advance notice to the stakeholders. Therefore, if the terms of the Houses are expiring within a window of three to four months, it would be legally possible to hold elections simultaneously to constitute the new Houses. 
  • In other words, to contemplate simultaneous elections, we need, as a starting point, a situation where the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of all States and Union Territories have their terms ending together.

Synchronising the Terms of the Houses:

  • Both the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies (ordinarily) have a term of five years. Clause (2) of Article 83 of the Constitution provides that “the House of the People, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and no longer and expiration of the said period of five years shall operate as dissolution of the House.”
  • There are identical provisions in Article 172(1) regarding the term of the Legislative Assemblies. While these Houses can be dissolved ahead of the scheduled expiry of
  • the term of five years [Articles 85(2)(b) and 174(2)(b)], there is no provision for extension of the term unless a proclamation of Emergency is in operation.
  • Bringing the terms of all the Houses to sync with one another necessarily calls for either extending the terms of several of the Houses or curtailing of terms or a combination of both, that too by two to three years in some cases. For enabling such curtailing or extension of the term, the relevant Articles of the Constitution mentioned above will have to be suitably amended.
  • Even if the terms are synchronised as a one-time measure, we will still need an adequate legal safeguarding place to avoid mid-term dissolution and protect the simultaneous elections cycle. For maintaining the electoral cycle, some countries have legal provisions to the effect that for a ‘no-confidence motion’ to be brought up against the government in office, the proposed resolution should also contain a constructive ‘vote of confidence’ in an alternative government with a named leader to head it.
  • In such cases, even if the sitting government is voted out in the House, there would be an acceptable alternative in place by virtue of the constructive vote of confidence. This helps to maintain the fixed term of the House and preempts stalemate situation thrusting fresh election as the only option.

Why Simultaneous Elections?

  • Two seemingly relevant factors in favour of simultaneous elections as opposed to separate elections are:
  • i. Simultaneous elections reduce labour, time and expenditure in the conduct of elections; and
  • ii. Instances of pause in governance are addressed if elections are conducted in one go instead of staggered elections.

Expenditure Issue- Areas of Saving:

  • Polling stations for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections are the same. So is the electoral roll. Electoral rolls of all Assembly constituencies within a Parliamentary Constituency become the roll for that Parliamentary Constituency. There is no duplication of work in preparing the electoral rolls for the two elections and hence no extra labour or expenditure is involved on this count.
  • However, in the conduct of elections, all logistic arrangements are replicated for the two elections when the same drill can cater to both the elections if held together. A polling team headed by a Presiding Officer is appointed for each polling station for taking the poll. These officials are primarily government/PSU officials and teachers. The same polling team with perhaps a couple of additional officials can handle the poll in a combined election to Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly. 
  • This would mean saving on transport, accommodation, storage arrangements, training, remuneration, and so on. This will also mean saving in terms of human resources. Another area of saving in simultaneous elections would be in the deployment of the Central Police Force. Two separate elections would require movement and deployment of Forces on two occasions while one such exercise of almost the same scale can do the job in concurrent elections.

Model Code of Conduct- Impact on Governance

  • Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is a set of behaviour guidelines for candidates and political parties that comes into operation from the date election is announced by Election Commission. A crucial part of the MCC is the restrictions on the party in power. MCC prohibits using official resources for electoral activities, announcing financial grants, new schemes, etc. that may influence the voters in favour of the ruling party. This is a check on the ruling party against using its position of power to woo the electors on the eve of elections and to provide a level playing turf to all stakeholders.
  • The restriction is only in coming up with new schemes during the limited period when MCC is in force. The schemes, programs, and work already in progress are not affected. If all elections are held together, the restrictions under MCC will be through in one go.
  • In the Lok Sabha election, the MCC applies to both the Union and State Governments. In the Legislative Assembly election, the Code, logically, applies to the outgoing State Government. The restriction on the Union Government is only concerning new schemes specific to the State(s) going to polls. In bye-elections, the application of MCC is restricted to the District concerned. Thus, the impact on governance on account of the enforcement of MCC during elections is minimal.

Local Bodies’ Elections:

  • The local bodies’ elections have not been considered for the analysis here. Those elections are conducted under the superintendence, direction, and control of a different constitutional authority, namely, the respective State Election Commission. Holding local bodies’ elections along with the other elections will require the team of the same polling officials to report to and take instructions from two different authorities simultaneously, even on the same issue, and they may not necessarily get the same direction in all cases. There is a distinct set of polling stations too for local bodies’ elections. Further, the judicial forum before which the local bodies’ election can be challenged is the Court of District Judge and other lower Courts whereas an election petition challenging a Parliamentary or Assembly election is to be brought up before the High Court.
  • Therefore, situations may arise where the same issue forms a ground to challenge the election may be raised in two different Courts-one for the Lok Sabha/Assembly election and the other for the local bodies’ election.


  • A simultaneous nationwide election could push up the voter turnout since a once-in-five-year event is bound to attract more enthusiastic participation across all sections. 
  • Frequent elections can bring in the election-fatigue factor at least among some sections of electors. Simultaneous elections in a regular electoral cycle may help address the fatigue element and the usually observed urban apathy in voting. Better electors’ participation will further add to the credibility of the elections. The idea of concurrent elections has been discussed in the past. The need/feasibility of the idea, the merits, and demerits associated with it are all likely to be a subject of further scrutiny and analysis at different levels in the future.



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Courtesy: Yojana