Simultaneous polls: Building political consensus is a must - The Tribune India

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Simultaneous polls

Building political consensus is a must

Simultaneous polls

THE Union Government has set up a committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind to explore the feasibility of ‘one nation, one election’, an idea that has been repeatedly championed by PM Narendra Modi. - File photo



THE Union Government has set up a committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind to explore the feasibility of ‘one nation, one election’, an idea that has been repeatedly championed by PM Narendra Modi. Simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls were the norm in post-Independence India till 1967. The BJP is keen to revive this system, but the Opposition sees it as a ploy by the ruling party to maximise its electoral gains.

Choosing Kovind as the panel head is a significant move. Addressing Parliament in 2018 during his presidential term, he had said, ‘Frequent elections not only impose a huge burden on human resources but also impede the development process due to the promulgation of the model code of conduct.’ There is no quarrel with this argument. Elections are a costly affair in terms of the money, resources and time expended. They are being held virtually every year in one part of the country or the other. Bunching together elections can reduce disruptions and give a fillip to governance. However, the proposal requires a thorough debate in Parliament. The challenge for the government is to make all political parties arrive at a consensus on this issue.

The Lok Sabha and Assembly polls have different dynamics and occasionally contrasting outcomes. For instance, the Congress had trumped the BJP in the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in December 2018, but the BJP swept these states in the parliamentary polls held a few months later. ‘One nation, one election’ has to be an exercise rooted in fair play, factoring in all the complexities and logistics. It can be viable only if all stakeholders are on the same page. An electoral system skewed in favour of one party will undermine the entire democratic process of holding elections. The onus will be on the Election Commission to ensure a level playing field.

Another UP shocker

Sensitisation of teachers needed

Reflective of the communal and social biases prevalent in Uttar Pradesh is a string of unfortunate incidents reported in schools in the recent past. These acts are particularly egregious for they involve young, sensitive children who are like sponge, soaking in everything they see and endure, and these imprints get etched on their minds for life.

The latest shocking case pertains to a 14-year-old girl dying by suicide as she could not bear alleged harassment by two of her teachers. For daring to question her teacher over a receipt for the school fee that she had paid, the girl was repeatedly taunted as being poor and of a lower caste. Ideally, the teachers should be supportive of students belonging to the lower stratum and aspiring to rise in life. Making matters worse for his widowed mother, who was paying for her daughter’s studies with great difficulty, was another hurdle that is shamefully visible in our society: the underprivileged sections have to run from pillar to post to get justice. In this case, the police filed an FIR against the accused teachers only after she had met a higher official. In another shocking case a week earlier, a teacher had humiliated and traumatised a seven-year-old Muslim boy by asking his classmates to slap him for not learning maths tables; she even passed comments on his religion. In November last year, a teacher of another UP school callously used a drilling machine on a Class V boy’s hand over his failure to recite the table of two. But for the presence of mind of another boy who pulled the plug of the machine, the teacher’s cruelty might have left the child impaired.

These are grave transgressions. But usually, teachers committing them remain remorseless, dismissing the acts as ‘minor issues’. Teachers’ sensitisation should be an integral part of their training so that they learn to treat the children as their own.

#Lok Sabha #Narendra Modi #Ram Nath Kovind


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