From citing trouble in ease of doing business to reduced investment scope, India Inc has come out in support of ‘One Nation One Election’.
Industry bodies Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have called for simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections in a bid to avoid disruptions and additional costs.
The two groups even met former President Ram Nath Kovind and made separate presentations to the committee seeking one election in every five years.
Ficci has asked for a single election every five years for Union, state, and local governments, a proposition also supported by CII. The report says CII has asked for elections every two-and-a-half years as an alternative proposal.
“Our ease of doing business is getting significantly constrained by multiple elections at various times at various levels. With multiple codes of conduct for these elections, the inevitable slowdown in decision making by govt hurts business and industry badly. This also discourages necessary reforms to be carried out by various govts,” TOI reported Ficci general secretary Shailesh Pathak as saying in a letter to the committee, following a meeting last week.
Ficci has suggested that a government should be voted to power with a majority for five years. Should the said government lose its majority, it should be given ten days to seek a vote of confidence for an alternate group. The industry body has suggested that if no group can claim majority, a mid-term election should be held only for the remaining term.
The lobby group referred to a Niti Aayog report to contend that in 2014, the implementation of the model code of conduct led to the cessation of governance and development activities for approximately seven months. It estimated that diminishing the frequency of elections could result in savings ranging from Rs 7,500 crore to Rs 12,000 crore.
The organisation has suggested permitting voters to vote at the closest polling station and adopting the ‘India Stack,’ which relies on indigenous technology, to compile electoral rolls instead of the current system which they deem time-consuming.
CII, in its meeting with the Kovind panel, reiterated its call for synchronized elections in 2012 and 2018. It said that the model code of conduct adversely affects infrastructure projects during the initial phase of implementation, with each election causing a disruption in government activities as employees are engaged in the electoral process for almost two months.
“Private sector is reluctant to invest months before and after the elections. So is the case for public investment which affects economic activity, overall development and jobs & livelihoods,” it said.
Aside from the loss of one productive day during each election, there is an economic drawback as workers frequently take time off to cast their votes, and the voting location is often different from their workplace, the CII argued.
“Simultaneous elections can reduce the overall expenditure incurred on general as well as state legislatures, making it more cost-effective and at the same time there are less days of productive work that are lost due to multiple elections,” CII said.