One Nation-One Election: BRS, YSRCP, TDP backed the proposal in 2019, but with riders
In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called an all-party meet to discuss the idea. Interestingly, the BRS, the YSRCP and the TDP backed the proposal
HYDERABAD: As news emerged that the BJP-led Central Government plans to launch the ‘One Nation-One Election’ of a possibility of discussion in the special session of Parliament from September 14 to September 22, 2023, speculations started doing the rounds once again about the feasibility of holding simultaneous elections across the country and how political parties would react.
It is not the first that the idea had been debated upon. A discussion on 'One Nation One Election' was first held in 2014-15 when the Centre sought the views of the Election Commission about its feasibility. Accordingly, the EC had informed the Government that simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were held in the country previously in 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967.
In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called an all-party meet to discuss the idea. Interestingly, all the three major regional parties from both Telugu States, including the BRS (then TRS) in Telangana and the YSRCP and the TDP backed the proposal but agreed that adequate deliberation was needed for the proposal.
During that meeting, Telangana IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao, who represented the BRS in the meeting, welcomed the move. He said that instead of prolonging the elections, the Government should ensure that they were conducted in a short period to avoid money flow.
"The phased election will not only hamper administration but also increase the election expenditure. If the Government wants to bring Constitutional Amendment for 'One Nation, One Election', the TRS will be supporting the Centre. If the elections are held once, the Central and State Governments can introduce budgets easily and this will help the fruits reaching people within five years," KTR had said.
At that time, former BRS MP B Vinod Kumar said that his party had put forth its views on simultaneous elections before the Law Commission during the NDA Government's first term that "it would be better to have all polls at one go".
"Implementing the 'One Nation, One Election' idea is going to be a Herculean task," he said and reminded that implementing the idea was not going to be an easy task as elections were held in different states in different intervals.
But a lot of water had flowed unde the bridge between the BRS and the Centre in the last four years. Sharing his views on the proposal on Thursday, BRS Rajya Sabha MP K Keshav Rao said that, "Talk of such Bills being introduced and passed is far-fetched. There are a lot of rumours going around. Even if they want to do something like this, a five-day session will not suffice. And even if any Bill requires a Constitutional amendment, as these being speculated about, then they have to be discussed and adopted by State legislatures. All this is too far-fetched."
During the meeting with the Prime Minister, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and YSRCP president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy praised the initiative and termed it as a bold and out-of-the-box initiative. He said that his party supported the proposal for a free and fair election process and enhanced participatory development.
Jagan said that in Andhra Pradesh, elections to Parliament and State Assembly were being held together since 1999.
“Therefore, we have been part of the One Nation - One Election paradigm for 20 years, that is now being proposed. Prima facie, One Nation – One Election principle will reduce electoral expenditure, increase voter participation as elections are held once in five years, and reduce administrative disruption,” he noted.
Jagan had said there was every likelihood of the party in power in the State misusing the official machinery for its own benefit if the elections to Lok Sabha were conducted separately, thus disrupting free and fair election process. “It will be like conducting byelections in the State for the party in power with absolute deemed control over the official machinery,” he pointed out.
Jagan, however, raised the issue of different State Assemblies having different tenures. “I am confident that Prime Minister Modi will evolve a mechanism to operationalise this initiative in the spirit of federal architecture of the Constitution,” he said.
“YSRCP favours simultaneous elections. But it strongly feels the challenges have to be addressed holistically and necessary amendments to the Constitution should also take place. It would be better to have consensus on the issue,” he said.
Ahead of the meeting with the Prime Minister in 2019, the TDP had called 'One Nation, One Election' a good idea but impractical. In a letter to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahalad Joshi, TDP President Chandrababu Naidu had written ‘When our constitution was being formulated a lot of thought was given before accepting the parliamentary form of democracy; and Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were decoupled.”
The TDP supremo also urged the political parties to weigh in the nation’s good and appealed for wider consultation before arriving at a decision.