‘One Nation, One Election’ against spirit of federalism — NPF
DIMAPUR — The Naga People’s Front (NPF) on Monday strongly opposed the concept of ‘One Nation, One Election’ on the grounds that it would invariably defeat the spirit of the federal structure of India, which is a union of states.
“It is a direct assault on the very essence and fabric of the democratic features,” the party stated in a letter addressed to Dr. Niten Chandra, Secretary of the High Level Committee on ‘One Nation, One Election.’
According to the NPF, the concept is detrimental to India as a developing nation which has earned a name in the comity of nations as a country of ‘unity in diversity.’
“As a matter of fact, India is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and the idea of homogeneity, or a- one size-fits all, will be only wishful thinking and will be repulsive as well,” it asserted.
The party went on to emphasise the significance of regional political parties, pointing out that national political parties inadequately address regional and local issues, resulting in regional imbalances even in terms of developmental projects.
It said that “one of the fundamental objectives of the regional political parties is to effectively protect and defend the distinct identity, culture, tradition, customary, and religious practices of its people, which in turn attracts and inspires its citizens, particularly the poor local people at the grass-root to take an interest in the electoral process.”
However, implementing the concept of ‘One Nation, One Election’ would undermine this objective, leading to a significant reduction in voter turnout and voting percentages. This, in turn, would jeopardise the celebration of Indian democracy, normally measured by voter participation, turning it into a thing of the past, the party maintained.
Noting that one of the main agendas of the ‘One Nation, One Election’ concept is to reduce election-related expenditure, the NPF asserted that such measures should not come at the expense of federalism.
Implementation of the concept “will hardly make any difference in reducing the election related expenditures,” it said, suggesting alternatives such as the amendment of the Representation of Peoples Act by incorporating stringent measures in regulating overall election expenditures.
To buttress its point, the NPF maintained that election related expenditures at present stand at approximately 0.33% of the GDP, and for India, whose GDP is about INR 300 lakh crore, the election costs “do not burden much on the country’s economy.”
Additionally, the expenditures on subsidies, freebies, etc., offered to attract voters by the political parties are also estimated to cost only 1-2% of the GDP which is also projected as rather reasonable, it said.
In the letter, the regional party opined that if ‘One Nation, One Election’ is introduced, an overhaul of the Indian Constitution will be necessitated, and the nation will most probably end up adopting the List Party Proportional Representation (LPPR) electoral system, where political parties present lists of candidates and voters cast their votes for a political party rather than for individual candidates.
The LPPR, it argued, “is too abstruse for the Indian masses as majority of the Indian population lives in the villages,” as it not only delinks the electorate from its representatives but also takes away the geographical linkage between the representatives and the electorate.
“As a matter of fact, a system which is applicable in other countries, particularly European countries, will be far-fetched for the Indian electorate till India becomes a fully developed nation,” it maintained.
The NPF expressed concern that the new system of ‘One Nation, One Election’, where simultaneous election of Lok Sabha and State Assembly will take place, will diminish the relevance of regional political parties as national agendas will overshadow regional and local issues.
“Over and above, the national political parties would take the upper hand by using all sorts of tantalising propaganda with an intention to hammer the regional political parties, and ultimately leads to one party rule, which is akin to a communist type of government that will only invite chaos and confusion in the Indian polity as it will be a direct threat to Indian democracy,” it added.
The party also opined that the use of financial resources and the potential misuse of government machinery would escalate during elections by national political parties seeking to secure power if simultaneous elections are conducted for both the Parliamentary and State Assembly. The NPF contended that this would “definitely vitiate the atmosphere of free and fair elections” and pose a significant threat to Indian democracy.
In this context, “the NPF strongly objects simultaneous election of Lok Sabha and State Assembly and does not subscribe to the concept of One Nation, One Election,” the letter read.