April 14, 2024


India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma
Image Source : INDIA TV India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma

The high-level committee headed by former President Ramnath Kovind on “one nation, one election” concept, submitted its voluminous report to President Droupadi Murmu on Thursday. In its report, the committee has recommended simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections. In order to set in motion the process of holding simultaneous elections, the committee has suggested that the term of state assemblies elected after the first sitting of the newly-elected Lok Sabha be curtailed till the elections to the next Lok Sabha.  If the next government accepts this report, simultaneous polls can be held as early as 2029.  The report says, in case the government falls at the Centre or in any state, elections should be held only for the remainder of the term  to ensure that the simultaneous electoral cycle is not disturbed. The committee met leaders of political parties, experts and those from civil society for 191 days before preparing its report. The committee has suggested two stages. In the first stage, elections to Lok Sabha and all state assemblies should be held simultaneously, and in the second stage, elections to local bodies like panchayats and municipal corporations should be held after a gap of 100 days. It also suggested that the same voter lists and voter IDs be used for all elections. This will reduce costs and use of resources.  Though the committee sought opinions from 62 political parties, only 47 parties responded. Out of them, 32 parties supported the idea of holding simultaneous elections, while 15 parties opposed.  

Among the six national parties, only BJP and Conrad Sangma-led National People’s Party supported, while four other parties – Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and CPI(M) opposed simultaneous elections. KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Indian Union Muslim League, J&K National Conference, JD(S), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, NCP (Sharad Pawar), RJD< RSP, YSRCP, Telugu Desam Party, RLD, Akali Dal (Mann), Sikkim Democratic Front and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party did not respond. Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of AIMIM, alleged that BJP wants to implement “one-party state” in India and “one nation, one election” will be the last nail in the coffin of our federal structure. Owaisi said, by holding frequent elections, political parties and their leaders feel themselves accountable to the people, and if any government’s term is fixed for five years, the ruling party will become “tension-free” for five years.  Congress leader Jairam Ramesh described “one nation, one election” as a sham. He alleged that Prime Minister Modi’s agenda was to impose “one nation, no election”.  

Aam Aadmi Party in its response to the panel said, simultaneous elections would undermine democracy, the basic structure of the Constitution and federal polity.  Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress said, forcing states to hold premature elections would be unconstitutional and will lead to suppression of state issues. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party said, simultaneous elections will result in national issues dominating regional issues, and in such a scenario, state-level parties would not be able to compete with national parties in terms of resources and expenses.  CPI(M) described the very concept as “fundamentally anti-democratic, which strikes at the roots of parliamentary democratic system as ordained in the Constitution.” The debate over “one nation, one election” is not new. Prime Minister Modi had floated this idea at least six years ago. He set up the high-level committee last year. Personally, I feel, the suggestion is good. Normally, elections are being hold almost every year. This year, Lok Sabha elections will be held and after three months, six states will hold assembly elections. Once these assembly polls are over, elections in three more states will be announced. In 2026, five states will hold assembly polls, followed by elections in six states in 2027.  

In 2028, ten states will go to assembly elections and the next Lok Sabha elections will be held in 2029. Because of elections, model code of conduct comes into force most of the time, once the poll dates are announced. This results in obstruction to development. The election machinery remains active all the time, para-military forces are deployed, thousands of rupees are spent on elections. If all elections are held together, several lakh crore rupees can be saved, apart from saving valuable time. These resources can be deployed for other work. However, it seems, implementing ‘one nation, one election’ concept will be a very difficult job.  It will be a big achievement if this is achieved by 2029 Lok Sabha elections. Looking at Modi’s style of working, nothing is impossible. This is the reason why opposition leaders are worried. They have started realizing that once Modi makes up his mind, he is sure to implement it. Whether it is revoking Article 370 or implementing Citizenship Amendment Act.

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