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Committee Headed by Former President Ram Nath Kovind to Explore ‘One Nation, One Election’

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In a move that has stirred significant interest and speculation, the Indian government has established a committee led by former President Ram Nath Kovind. The committee’s primary objective is to delve into the feasibility of implementing the concept of ‘One Nation, One Election.’ This development follows closely on the heels of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi’s announcement regarding a special session of Parliament scheduled to take place from September 18th to 22nd, 2023.

Notably, the government’s official announcement regarding the special session did not provide any insights into the session’s specific agenda. Minister Pralhad Joshi, however, expressed his anticipation of constructive discussions and debates within Parliament, sharing his sentiments on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

Since the announcement, a wave of conjecture has swept through political circles, particularly regarding the potential subjects to be addressed during the five-day special session. Among the topics under speculation is the dissolution of the current Parliament and the announcement of early Lok Sabha elections, a rumor reported by the news agency ANI. Additionally, some pundits are pondering whether the session will revolve around the concept of ‘One Nation, One Election.’

But what exactly is ‘One Nation, One Election’?

The ‘One Nation, One Election’ concept in India is aimed at synchronizing elections for the Lok Sabha (the lower house of India’s Parliament) and all state assemblies. The objective is to conduct these elections simultaneously, either on a single day or within a defined timeframe. Over the years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a vocal advocate for the idea of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls. The decision to appoint Ram Nath Kovind to lead the exploration of this concept underscores the government’s commitment to the idea, especially as a slew of elections loom on the horizon. Five state assembly elections are scheduled for November or December this year, to be followed by the Lok Sabha elections, likely in May-June 2024. Recent government actions have also raised the possibility of advancing general elections and some state polls, as reported by PTI.

The Pros of ‘One Nation, One Election’ are:

  1. Cost Efficiency: Conducting separate elections incurs substantial financial costs, and ‘One Nation, One Election’ aims to significantly reduce these expenses.
  2. Administrative and Security Ease: Simultaneous elections would alleviate the burden on administrative and security forces, who are often engaged in multiple election-related duties.
  3. Enhanced Governance: Implementation of ‘One Nation, One Election’ could allow the government to focus more on governance, free from the perpetual election cycle that can hinder policy implementation.
  4. Increased Voter Turnout: The Law Commission suggests that simultaneous elections could lead to higher voter turnout, as it would be more convenient for people to cast their votes in multiple elections at once, as reported by India Today.

However, it’s important to consider the Cons of ‘One Nation, One Election’:

  • Constitutional and Legal Amendments: Implementing ‘One Nation, One Election’ would necessitate changes to the Constitution and other legal frameworks. This would require a constitutional amendment followed by approvals from state assemblies. While not a new concept, as it has been attempted four times in the 1950s and 60s, India’s current context involves more states and a larger population eligible to vote, as reported by ANI.