Electoral Reforms In India

[op-ed snap] The next structural change’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Simultaneous election forms the fundamental pillar of electoral reforms.


The renewed pitch for “One Nation One Election” if understood in terms of process improvement, or reforms, makes eminent sense.

Harmful Impact of year-round election cycles

1.Concerns with Rajya Sabha

  • First, the Rajya Sabha has simply stopped reflecting the current will of the people.
  • No, this is not an argument to assert that Rajya Sabha should reflect the reality of the Lok Sabha mandate.
  • But is it anybody’s case that the Rajya Sabha members should not reflect the current will of their respective state’s mandate?

Case Study of UP

Eleven Rajya Sabha members were elected from Uttar Pradesh in June 2016: Seven of them were from the SP, two from the BSP and just one each from the BJP and Congress. These results reflected the reality of the then state assembly of UP. These seats will be up for re-election in June 2022. In between, the people of the state decisively voted in favour of the BJP in March 2017. The UP assembly is due for elections in February-March 2022. This would mean that the assembly elected in 2017 would have had zero say in its entire tenure on these 11 seats.

2. confrontationist Attitude between the state and centre

  • Second, assembly elections two years either side of Parliamentary elections, in states ruled by a different party than that at the Centre, have led to an almost continuous confrontationist attitude, severely compromising federal cooperation and governance delivery.
  • Examples – Take the case of West Bengal. Before the 2019 general elections, Ayushman Bharat was suspended, PM Kisan was not implemented, CBI jurisdiction was impeded.

3.  Delay in decision making

  • Third, although governments are nominally elected for five years, the frequent imposition of the Model Code suspends decision making and implementation every few months.
  • This has squeezed out space for ideas that may be vital but have no immediate electoral salience.

4. Electoral Swaying by short term promises

Fourth, the competitive nature of electoral democracy inevitably means choosing to make the easiest promise. Routed in the general elections and fearing similar result six months later, who would want to invest time in arduous efforts to effect real, long-term changes?

5. No availability of evaluation time

Fifth, the ubiquitous nature of social media has meant that almost everybody is now not just an informed political animal but a participating political animal. Once you have taken a position on a political issue, then the very nature of the beast will compel you to keep on participating with your political lens.


There have been various models proposed for implementing the idea of simultaneous elections. They will surely be debated and a plausible method to reconcile the practicalities be evolved. It took us about a decade to agree to GST. It was a one-time adjustment at the national and state level and we have already started seeing the benefits of this structural change. “One Nation One Election” is also about one-time structural change. First align various cycles and then evolve a structure, by consensus, which can serve us for the decades to come. It is an idea whose time has come.

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