Narendra Modi had been a votary of same-time polls to the Lok Sabha and the assemblies. Seven summers ago he said, we are “trapped in a cycle of elections” and that it was time to go for simultaneous polls. True to style, he called it “one India, one election”.
If you want it done statutorily, it would call for a few Constitution amendments. For starters, however, Modi can try with a few of the states through practical politics. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram have to go to the assembly polls this winter. Why not call a snap Lok Sabha poll too, which is due in summer, along with them? Many in the BJP, and some in the opposition, believe Modi might do it.
But why? Wouldn’t he want to equal Manmohan Singh’s record on the hot seat?
He would, but political pragmatism may compel otherwise. The going over the last nine years has been that voters in most states want Modi at the Centre, but many may choose non-BJP regimes in some of the state capitals. Why not avoid the scenario by reworking the electoral dynamics?
Modi would be riding high on the G20 glory as a global statesman this autumn. If the voters are to choose their MPs and MLAs together in winter, the Modi magic might work on both. They would very likely press the lotus button on both the voting machines. Then why wait for the summer, by which time cares of governance would have dimmed the shine?
There is more. The opposition, with all their conclaves in Patna and elsewhere, are still in disarray. Strike now, before they regroup.
If you thought all these have got the opposition worried, you are wrong. They are the least bothered. The AAP and the Congress are busy with their own little feuds; Sharad Pawar is counting the losses he suffered in last Sunday’s castle coup; K. Chandrashekar Rao is on a Bharat Rashtra paryatan on his own; the rest are going around like headless chicken.
Only Nitish Kumar is worried. The guy, who is trying to be another Lok Nayak from Bihar seeking to weld an opposition alliance, said a few days before the Patna conclave: "It is not necessary that Lok Sabha elections will be held next year only. It is possible that it may be held before time, that is, this year itself."
Early polls have worked for incumbents, and also backfired. Indira Gandhi went for a mid-term test crying “garibi hatao” in 1971 and reaped a never-before majority. A.B. Vajpayee sought an early mandate in 2004 claiming India was shining, and lost incredibly.
The statutory case for simultaneous polls has administrative merit, but little political merit.
First about the plus side. We are wasting governing time, political energy and economic resources by being constantly in a poll mode. Every year we have a round or more of polls to one or more legislatures. The PM and ministers get distracted, the model code freezes development governance for two months, the police and the paramilitary get burdened, illegal money corrupts the polity and so on.
Now the minus side, that is political. Tailoring the terms of assemblies to suit the central legislature's is fundamentally un-federal. Democracy is not a commodity to be valued in monetary terms. Elections are not a necessary evil, but an essential good by which the deprived classes get politically empowered. Elections are part of the social amritmanthan for obtaining the nectar of social and political good. We have to have more of them, not less.