One Nation One Election Bill: The government has taken a major step towards exploring the idea of “One Nation One Election,” which proposes holding both general and state elections simultaneously. This effort is being led by a committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind.
This development comes shortly after recent reports that the government may introduce a bill related to “One Nation, One Election” during the upcoming special session of Parliament, which is scheduled to convene from 18 September to 22 September 2023. The committee’s members will be formally announced at a later date.
The establishment of this committee has opened up the intriguing possibility of potentially moving up the Lok Sabha elections to coincide with a series of assembly elections scheduled for later this year. This move could significantly alter the electoral landscape of the country, and its implications are being closely monitored by political observers and citizens alike, particularly those who are eager to learn more about the potential impact of this transformative initiative.
One Nation, One Election Plan
Last Friday, in a move that has garnered much attention and raised concerns among opposition parties, the government took a significant step by establishing a high-level committee (HLC) led by former President Ram Nath Kovind. The primary aim of this committee is to thoroughly explore the viability of conducting Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously. This announcement came shortly after the government’s declaration, sparking a flurry of political discussion and debate.
Following the initial announcement, J.P. Nadda, the Chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), quickly convened a meeting with the former President. In response to these developments, the opposition quickly began to express reservations, with some suggesting a possible “conspiracy” aimed at postponing elections in the country. This raised a contentious issue, and political observers and citizens alike closely monitored the unfolding developments.
The following day, the Center revealed the composition of the eight-member panel tasked with examining the possibility of synchronized elections. This panel has a diverse and influential membership, including prominent figures such as Home Minister Amit Shah, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a senior Congress leader and Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who previously held the position of Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, distinguished jurist Harish Salve, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari, N.K. Singh, who served as the former chairman of the Finance Commission, and Subhash C Kashyap, the former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha. Notably, the panel meetings will also include the participation of the Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice.
The composition of this panel reflects a blend of political and legal expertise, promising a comprehensive examination of the “One Nation One Election” concept. It also underscores the significance of this initiative in shaping the future of India’s electoral landscape.
Modi’s pitch for ‘One Nation, One Election’
In addition to the three committees that have conducted comprehensive studies on this topic over the years, it is essential to note that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has been a strong supporter of the concept of simultaneous elections, which aims to synchronize both general and state elections in the country.
This commitment to the idea was notably expressed in his 2019 Independence Day address when he highlighted that after successfully implementing the “one nation, one tax” policy through the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), there were increasing calls for the realization of “one nation, one election.”
Further underscoring his dedication to exploring this concept, in June of that same year, shortly after his re-election, Prime Minister Modi convened a meeting with leaders from various political parties to discuss the potential feasibility of simultaneous elections.
In November 2020, while addressing the All India Presiding Officers, Modi stressed that “One Nation, One Election” was not just a topic of discussion but an essential need for the country, underscoring the significance of this reform.
In January 2022, Modi reiterated his stance on simultaneous elections, emphasizing that the frequent electoral cycles had created an environment in which politics permeated every aspect of public life, sometimes overshadowing important development initiatives. These consistent and resounding endorsements by the Prime Minister have added significant momentum to the ongoing discussions surrounding the idea of holding simultaneous elections in India, sparking widespread interest and debate on this critical issue.
One Nation One Polls: Pros and Cons
- Holding elections can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor for any government due to the extensive logistics, manpower, and resources required. However, the idea of conducting both state assembly and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously presents a compelling proposition that aims to alleviate some of these financial and temporal burdens.
- One of the most prominent advantages of this approach is the potential for significant cost savings. By streamlining the electoral process and synchronizing the schedules for state and national elections, the government could potentially reduce the overall expenditure associated with conducting elections at different times. This could free up valuable financial resources that could be redirected toward essential public services and development initiatives.
- Moreover, the concept of simultaneous elections offers another invaluable benefit: time-saving. Currently, with staggered elections, politicians and government officials are often consumed by election campaigns and related activities, leaving limited time for governing effectively. Simultaneous elections, if successfully implemented, would provide the government with a continuous five-year period to focus on governance and policy implementation without the disruptive influence of frequent electoral battles. This could lead to more stable and efficient governance, ultimately benefiting the nation as a whole.
- In the quest for stability, the Law Commission has made a noteworthy recommendation. To prevent a state government from being toppled without a viable alternative in place, they have proposed a sequence where a no-confidence motion against the government would need to be followed by a confidence motion. This procedural requirement ensures that if the opposition lacks the necessary numbers to form an alternative government, the incumbent regime cannot be removed abruptly, thereby preventing political instability and ensuring a more orderly transition of power when necessary.
- The proposed “One Nation One Election” concept, if implemented, would have a significant impact on the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), which typically have a lifespan of 15 years. Under this proposal, these machines would only be used three times during their lifespan.
- In order to bring this ambitious electoral reform into effect, several important changes would need to be made to the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act (1951). This involves amending five specific articles within these legislative frameworks. Additionally, it is essential that all recognized state and national political parties reach an agreement and consent to these changes, underscoring the need for broad-based political support for such a significant change in the electoral process.
- However, it is important to note that none of the proposed amendments address the potential scenarios of hung parliaments or the untimely dissolution of governments. These situations, which often require nuanced political solutions, remain unaccounted for in the current proposals.
- Another significant consideration is the continued existence of Article 356, which grants the central government the authority to dismiss state governments in certain circumstances. The presence of this provision may pose a challenge to the feasibility of implementing the “One Nation One Poll” concept, as it could potentially undermine the principle of synchronized elections.
- Furthermore, there is a legitimate concern that under this proposed system, voters may find themselves casting ballots on national issues even during state elections. This could inadvertently favor larger national parties while marginalizing regional parties, potentially altering the political landscape in favor of national agendas.
- Finally, the implementation of “One Nation One Election” could create a situation where a single individual or a specific issue gains overwhelming popularity, potentially leading to an unchecked concentration of power. This underscores the importance of carefully considering the potential consequences and safeguards associated with such a significant electoral reform.
- In essence, the “One Nation One Election” proposal raises a number of complex issues and considerations, from the practical use of EVMs to the need for constitutional amendments, potential ramifications for regional parties, and the preservation of democratic checks and balances. These complexities demand thorough examination and debate to ensure that any changes made to India’s electoral system uphold the principles of fairness, representation, and democratic governance.
‘One Nation, One Election’ bill
In summary, the formation of the high-level committee and the appointment of its members have sparked significant interest and debate in the political arena. The potential implications of synchronizing elections at the state and national levels are of paramount importance, and the outcomes of the committee’s deliberations will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of India’s democratic processes in the years to come.