Why holding simultaneous Union and state elections is a bad idea

Amna Mirza
Amna MirzaFeb 16, 2017 | 20:02

Why holding simultaneous Union and state elections is a bad idea

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The Centre even sought the views of people on the MyGov web portal.

It is being argued that the proposal, if becomes a reality, will allow governments (both Centre and states) to focus more on governance and reduce the heavy economic burden that frequent elections impose on the exchequer.


On the face of it, this sounds like one more "magic" solution which will cure all our problems. The move is touted to turn our country and states into a governance model overnight. It is also being argued that our politicians will strive for progress over caste equations to retain power. 

However, simplistic solutions to complex structures developed and evolved over the years are not the best electoral reforms.

Our politicians must know and respect the roles that we the people have chosen them for. (Credit: PTI photo)

Apart from being a shining economy and bright investment spot in a gloomy global economic scenario, India’s two other major assets are its young population and a vibrant and truly federal democracy. We get to elect our state and central governments and the two choices might be totally independent of each other as is the case in many states.

What needs to be understood is that elections fall on different dates not out of choice, but as a result of our democratic developments over the years. While some governments collapsed midway through their tenure, some had new formations. Some states reached a roadblock where apart from fresh elections no other alternative was possible. Same has been witnessed at the central level as well when governments didn’t complete their tenure.


Rather than thinking of holding elections on the same date to save poll spend and shift focus to governance (instead of campaigning), it is important that our politicians change their attitude.

The need of the hour is that our politicians must know and respect the roles that we the people have chosen them for, rather than deciding what roles we need to play.

Many central leaders immerse themselves into every election (campaigning) — from parliamentary to assembly and even panchayat polls.

The central leadership of all leading political parties must understand that their primary role and responsibility is law-making and that is why the people send them to Parliament (the electorate have their local representatives to fix "sewers and street lights").

When key members of Parliament turn into "star campaigners" for state/local bodies elections with promises of solving issues like parking problems, they make a laughing stock of themselves even as we wonder if we chose them to resolve civic issues or to implement national polices like health and education.

So, it's the leaders who need to come out of the campaign mode and focus on governance rather than saying that the entire country needs to shift its course. The electorate today is evolved and know horses for courses.


In an age of information explosion, we clearly know which representative is entrusted with what job.

As informed citizens we make those responsible choices. Lining up for municipal, assembly or parliamentary elections on separate dates is not a problem for us. The problem arises when head of parties chosen to decide foreign and defence policies take more interest in deciding where and how to dispose household trash.

The public is clear about its choices. It's time the top leadership of various parties too get their priorities right. They should understand and know the roles they have been chosen for. It is best for them to let local elections be a local affair and not make it a national spectacle.

Stalling all work in Delhi just because Goa is going to polls is not why we chose our central government. A central government should focus on governing and not treat state/civic elections as a referendum on itself or as a prestige issue.

A central government can still return to power if they govern well at the Centre despite losing all state polls while a state party may never make it to the Centre despite being the best state administrators.

It is high time our state and central leaders understand this.

Last updated: February 16, 2017 | 20:02
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