The Election Commission of India seems to be unsure whether simultaneous elections will help in reducing costs. The EC Chief Om Prakash Rawat said that they will require a systematic study to establish whether cost reduction will take place by holding simultaneous elections or otherwise.
Mr. Rawat also said that the rising voice in support of one nation one poll is more of a status quo attitude and there is no threat to the federal structure of the country due to the same. He also said in an interview that there is much to study before implementing the idea of ‘one-nation one-poll’.
More cost to involve during the initial phase
Initially, it will cost more money to purchase machines and organize warehouses to store the former. Machines include EVM and the paper audit, said the EC Chief. Certain constitutional amendments are also critical in order to organize one nation one poll, which the parliament has to concentrate on other than logistics.
Rawat said that the logistics will include EVM, paper audits, Central Police forces, vehicles, boxes to carry EVMs among many other things. He also said that parties will have to confirm if there should be central forces instead of state police, largely due to the trust factor.
The CEC also told the media that around 30 lakh Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verification Paper Audit Trail will be required if one wants to conduct both Lok Sabha and State Elections together.
A Comprehensive Preparation Necessary
CEC explained that at present, around 10 lakh EVMs are being used for the Lok Sabha Elections with few lakhs in reserve, while around 2-3 lakh EVMs are required to conduct state polls. If one goes for simultaneous polls then on a tentative basis, 20 lakh EVMs with 10 lakh in reserve would be required.
The cost of EVM is around Rs 17,000 per unit and if 10 lakh EVMs are necessary then the expenditure would be Rs 1,700 crores, which is a huge amount. The average life of one EVM is 15 years, where after it is discarded. Hence, a particular EVM will only be used thrice in its lifetime as elections will be held every five years.
Rawat also said that apart from the initial cost, there will be a lot of saving when it comes to logistics management, deployment of armed forces, cost of management, campaigning cost etc. He at last countered the apprehensions raised on simultaneous elections by the regional parties. The Chief of EC said that it is a baseless fear that regional parties will be wiped out because of one election being held along with general elections, as national parties would sweep up. He gave the example of simultaneous elections held during the 50s and 60s and how regional parties gained their votes.
Rawat also cited LS 2014 elections, where despite BJP gaining a thumping majority in LS, regional parties like BJD in Odisha, TRS in Telangana and TDP in AP have managed to win the state elections. He said that people usually bear tendencies to resist changes and there is no need for actual fear.