South India against theory of one nation, one poll

10 July 2018, 01:05 PM
South India against theory of one nation, one poll
South India against theory of one nation, one poll

South India, more or less, has rejected the idea of one nation, one poll idea now formally mooted by the Law Commission

Accounting for 130 seats, the six states of South India form a major chunk in Parliament. Given the near absence of the ruling BJP in south of the Vindhyas electorally, barring Karnataka, some regional leaders feel the proposal can destroy the federal structure of the Constitution.

It can be assumed the opposition will rubbish any idea that originates from the central institutions under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime. But it is interesting to note that the Samajwadi Party, a key component of the opposition grouping readying to take on the BJP unitedly, has seemingly broken ranks with others and supported the idea. No prizes for guessing why he backs the Law Commission proposal. In this, he sees a chance to eject Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who still has four years to go.

Barring Telangana that has just 17 seats, rest of South India has rejected the proposal which is backed to the hilt by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He has been arguing the case for simultaneous Lok Sabha and State assembles for the past couple of years, asserting that the nation could not afford to be in an almost continuous election mode.

The supporter for PM’s argument in South India is Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao who has in the past been cosying up to the prime minister. He has also, for safety sake, flirting with the non-Congress opposition parties, on other issues.

But, whether KCR wants or not, the assembly elections to Telangana will take place in the 2019 general elections as scheduled. So also, in Andhra Pradesh. But its Chief Minister and Telugu Desam chief N Chandrababu Naidu vehemently objects to the idea that discounts many real possibilities. What if the central government fell before its term of five years, will all the state governments be dismissed for fresh polls to synchronise them with mid-term Lok Sabha elections?

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“Will all state assemblies be dissolved, state governments be dismissed for the sake of having one nation, one poll norm, questions Hyderabad-based political analyst Bharat Bhushan. For KCR, it does not matter as polls are anyway scheduled along with Lok Sabha polls, but he is earning some brownie points by being seen as on the same page as the PM.

Even the GST hailed as most progressive tax reform and touted as one nation, one tax today has a plethora of taxes. How can a country with 29 states, each with different pulls and pressures and political developments have elections always as per a fixed schedule? Sometimes political developments can force early elections and throw the one nation, one poll schedules haywire.

Opposition ruled Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry and even AIADMK in Tami Nadu are opposing the proposal vehemently. If we take up the entire south, states representing over 100 seats in Parliament, barring Telangana that is, are not wanting any disturbance to the current schedules of elections.

The reason is very clear: the respective state assemblies of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have close to three years of their term left, and the Karnataka government has just been sworn in, so ruling party here wants to disturb the system that has worked perfectly well since Independence.

If not anything, the opposition parties see in this a diabolic game of the BJP to destroy the federal structure of the country. It is perhaps one of those rare occasions when the two Dravidian parties – the DMK and the AIADMK – are on the same page.

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In fact, the DMK reads sinister designs of the BJP in the resurrection of an old proposal – mooted during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and ended up as a mere report of the Law Commission – for one nation, one poll now presented again by the Law Commission. The Law Commission report of 1999 is gathering dust even today and nothing has been done on that.

Holding simultaneous elections is not feasible anytime soon—given the strong opposition from states where neither of the two national parties hold sway anymore.

For the record, the BJP and the Congress are yet to respond to request of the Law Commission to submit their views over the proposal. Congress wants to discuss the issue threadbare with its allies and coalition partners before it makes any firm commitment.

But given the strong stand of its latest ally and coalition partner Janata Dal (S) in Karnataka which declared that in a federal democracy thinking about simultaneous elections is a futile exercise. Perhaps it has summed up the situation the best and one nation, one poll idea will remain just that – an idea that could go into cold storage like the last time.

First Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 09:43 AM
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