BJP floats trial balloon to hold one poll for one country

By Brij Bhardwaj. Dated: 6/9/2018 12:20:12 AM

There are no ready answers available for problems like a State Government unable to run for its full term. Should the State be kept under Central rule for an indefinite period or elect a new Government? Basic issue is that India has opted for Federal system and not a centralised system of Government which is more suitable for a big country like India which has unity amid diversity of regions and languages. The features give good representation in a federal system.

Bhartiya Janata Party Chief Amit Shah is always one step ahead of his opponents when it comes to strategy to win the polls. Long before the possibility of regional parties joining hands with Congress to challenge BJP in 2019 emerged, he floated the idea of one country, one election. This idea has been taking shape with a special committee in U.P endorsing the same. It has been suggested that the BJP ruled states pre-pone or post hold them poll to hold the same along with Lok Sabha poll in 2019.
The thinking behind the idea is clear that elections should be fought on national issues and not local issues in which regional parties get an advantage. More so, one nation one poll will give advantage to BJP which has popular national leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi who can help them to win the polls. They also have an edge in terms of resources. For the time being, the BJP will not be able to carry out their plan of one nation -one poll because they do not have numbers to carry through a constitutional amendment required in Parliament.
There are no ready answers available for problems like a State Government unable to run for its full term. Should the State be kept under Central rule for an indefinite period or elect a new Government? Basic issue is that India has opted for Federal system and not a centralised system of Government which is more suitable for a big country like India which has unity amid diversity of regions and languages. The features give good representation in a federal system.
More so regional aspirations can be better fulfilled in elections to State Assemblies and Lok Sabha separately. It will be difficult to reconcile issues close to hearts of farmers of U.P and Bihar with as well as tribal of States of North -East and Jharkhand. There is little doubt that the federal structure has helped in preserving unity and integrity of India by encouraging regional languages and aspirations. Even legal requirements of States like Article 370 in case of Jammu and Kashmir and similar provisions in the constitution for North East states as they are not needed for the rest of India.
There is little doubt that BJP has been rattled by attempts to form a common front of regional parties which may combine with Congress party to fight Lok Sabha polls in 2019. Such a front will obviously give an advantage to the opposition in terms of numbers. BJP hopes that in a one country one poll, they hope to divide them on issue of leadership of a front and by fighting election on national issues rather than regional issues. The question of non-payment of dues for sugarcane is important for U.P and Maharashtra , but not for the of India.
There is little doubt that there are many issues agitating people in different parts of country. Issues relating to farmers distress, scarcity of water, demonetisation may be common for the country, but there are host of issues which are important for one state or region only. More so democracy has better chance of flourishing where there are many centres of power. One of the reasons for downfall of Congress party, according to commentators is concentration of power in party High Command. Same mistake is being now committed by BJP where power is wielded by two leaders at top and others have been sidelined. The inherent strength of Indian system of governance has been panchayat system where it was visualised that power will flow from bottom to top and not otherwise. In such a system states, local bodies and panchayats were expected to flourish.
But over the years reverse has happened . The local bodies, panchayats have been deprived of resources and powers. Result is breakdown of civic structures in majority of our cities. No wonder, a majority of polluted cities are in India in a world-wide survey. There is need to reverse this system. What BJP is proposing is the opposite of it. All voters in States feel that elections of local bodies and state assemblies give them an opportunity to elect representatives with whom they come in contact regularly and not members of parliament who deal with national issues.
One hopes that the body and spirit of the Constitution will be preserved and not reversed by changing its basic structure.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)
—[IFS]

 

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