Simultaneous Elections – National Security Imperative

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Election Commission of India (ECI). (File Photo: IANS)

(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

Holding simultaneous elections is a vital imperative when viewed from national security interests – consolidating and advancing national unity based on social harmony and peace.

Remember all alike always that political leaders and parties view the current sequence of elections to continue for the sake of remaining in limelight either in power or out of power.

Without election buzz, they will be like fish out of water.

To make strategic sense out of the ongoing acrimonious high decibel verbal duels, sans propriety, indulged by political leaders is quite simple and easy. Even layman would highlight that they will further exacerbate the existing communal and caste divides irretrievably. And, with society divided irretrievably on narrow parochial and sectarian lines, there is no need for external enemies to dismember modern India.

Indian political loggerheads – internal enemies – in ruthless pursuit of power are good enough to do it. Let none suffer from illusions.

Wake up “We the People” of India to the most disruptive and destructive internal security threat concern and deliver a knockout blow to all those in favor of the current round the clock – 24 x 365 –  electoral battle games series.

Let me record the list of elections held after Lok Sabha elections held in May 2014. List includes: in October 2014 – Haryana, Maharashtra and Delhi; in December 2014, Jharkhand and J & K; in February 2015 – Delhi; in November 2015 – Bihar; in May 2016 – Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry; in March 2017 – Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Manipur; in December 2017 – Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat; in March 2018 – Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura.

And, list of election to follow in December 2013 includes: Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan.

The complete process of elections – issue of Notification; filing, scrutiny and withdrawal of nominations; pre poll campaigning for 2 weeks; actual date of poll;  counting  and declaration of results –  takes between 4 to 5 weeks.

Nonetheless, the sound and fury of pre electoral rhetoric starts well before the notification of elections immediately following the conclusion of Parliament sessions.

The cycle of sound and fury viciously rotating includes: disrupted and destructive parliament sessions-slanderous election campaigning-parliament sessions. Surely, such a never ending vicious politics in the name of democracy is detrimental to maintenance of peace and harmony vital for progress and prosperity besides national security interests.

As a consequence, elected representatives, instead of providing “Good Governance” through legislation by negotiation and consensus, are perpetually locked in acrimonious verbal duels aimed at maligning each other.

Next, even the Media houses are culpable for the most heinous crime on modern India. Obsessed with “Breaking News Syndrome” and “sensationalism”, 24 x 365 election series provide “Oxygen” to sustain their relevance and “TRP” values.  Alongside, media provides the platform of photo opportunities for pseudo intellectual panelists to remain relevant in public domain!

Most worrisome, in particular, media houses provide ‘Open’ platforms for Pakistani pseudo intellectuals, mostly former military officers, to conduct very well orchestrated “Hybrid or Political” warfare on deliberately scripted narratives contra national security interests.

If media houses – as opinion makers, builders, and consolidators – are genuinely interested in advancing and consolidating national security interests, it is high time that all alike sink their rivalries cutting across their partisan affiliations with various political parties and spearhead championing the cause of holding simultaneous election.

Ironic but paradoxical it is that even majority of “Constitutional experts, Law Ministry, Election Commission and academics” have and are already advanced their views favoring the continuing of holding “24 x 365 Election” series – “WarNatakas (political war dramas).

As per experts, particularly legal ones, the biggest legal challenge in holding simultaneous elections is the need for major constitutional amendments, particularly the vexed issue of the Tenth Schedule, containing the anti-defection law, which can’t be made redundant to give assemblies or Parliament a fixed full-term.

As per Justice Chauhan, holding simultaneous polls would cost a lot of money to the public exchequer and would be a huge exercise involving an overhaul of Election Commission and the requirement of “three to four times” increase of EVMs.

Admit and accept all of them must that the risks and costs of conducting 24 x 365 days elections far outweigh expenditures that may be incurred in conducting simultaneous elections.

Ipso facto, the complete government machinery gets pre-occupied with conduct of elections besides deployment of Central Para Military and Police Forces at a enormous cost to the tax payers.

How can “Political Stability” and “Stable Governments”, which are an imperative for providing “Effective Governance”, be ever possible in such an absurd scenario?

Just because Modi has proposed on the Law Day on 25 November 2017 for considering the conduct of simultaneous elections, the Congress Party was quick to oppose it.

So, Justice Chauhan has suggested the practice in Germany, that is, “Constructive Confidence Motion, where no-confidence motions must be accompanied by proposals for an alternative government. But this would need major changes in the law.”

Yet, Justice Chauhan stated “I believe we have the best Constitution in the world that borrows from best practices everywhere. What it needs is proper execution… We don’t need to change it.”

I cannot but help reproducing extracts of Joseph Story “Commentaries on the US Constitution 1983”: “The structure has been erected by architects of consummate skill and fidelity; its foundations are solid; its compartments are beautiful, as well as useful; ….. And its defenses are impregnable from without. It has been reared for immortality, if the work may justly aspire to such a title. It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keeper, THE PEOPLE. Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.”

In retrospect, what Joseph Story lamented in 1983 represents the unfortunate ground realities prevailing in modern India today

Finally, since 1990, seven commissions have submitted comprehensive proposals suggesting electoral reforms.  Yet, reforms implemented till date are restricted to introduction of EVMs, voter ID cards and holding elections in phases to ensure fool-proof security. Reforms, therefore, are mostly peripheral and do not address fundamental issues.

Unless fundamental issues are addressed squarely without prevarication, representative parliamentary democracy in its existing form may not deliver anymore. Like the 5-day cricket test match overtaken by the one day cricket and the T-20 limited over game threatening to rewrite everything before it, even representative parliamentary needs to be replaced by an appropriate form.

Perish Indian democracy will, since the nation is traversing on the course of corruption or negligence and wise banished from the public councils, besides gullible people flattered by false pre-poll promises day in and out.

Finally, let me also conclude by recalling the “Anonymous” quote: “Where elections end, there slavery begins”. 

“WAKE UP WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA”! Act now to avoid repenting later. Avoid slavery in perpetuity!

 

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