One Nation, One Election: In a significant development towards streamlining India’s electoral processes, the central government has begun discussions on the possibility of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Assembly (Legislative Assembly) elections across the country. A special session of Parliament has been called from September 18 to September 22 to discuss the matter, which will emphasize the government’s seriousness about improving the electoral scenario. The initiative is being led by a committee chaired by former Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, who will play a key role in shaping the future of India’s electoral system.
One Nation, One Election: What is it and why is it important?
The concept of “one nation, one election” is the idea of synchronizing all elections in India. This would include elections for national, state, and local governments. The central government has established a committee to investigate the feasibility of this concept. Former President Ram Nath Kovind chairs the committee.
India has previously held concurrent Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, including in 1951–52 and 1957. India would be one of only three countries to hold simultaneous elections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has long supported the idea of “one nation, one election.” The idea involves synchronizing Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly elections to ensure that they are held simultaneously. Although the proposal aims to reduce the frequency of elections and the costs associated with them, it also seeks to minimize the disruption caused by continuous election cycles. However, it is a multidimensional effort that requires extensive planning and coordination.
The appointment of former President Kovind as the chairman of the committee underlines the government’s commitment to exploring the feasibility of simultaneous elections. His rich experience and insight into the governance of the country will be helpful in guiding the deliberations of the Committee. Although the government has not given specific details of the committee’s agenda, it is widely speculated that “one nation, one election” will be the central focus.
Simultaneous Election Advantages
When the first LokSabha elections were held in 1951–52, 53 parties fought the polls, 1874 candidates ran, and poll expenditures were 11 crore.
There were 610 political parties and around 9,000 candidates, and poll expenditures of approximately 60,000 crore rupees (claimed by ADR) have yet to be disclosed by the political parties in the 2019 elections.
The Law Commission of India projected that purchasing enough EVMs will cost Rs 4,500 crore—a cost that, in the long term, supporters of ONE NATION, ONE ELECTION believe will be offset. On a related topic, the 2019 election expenditures are estimated to be over $8.5 billion. In 2016, the combined presidential and Congressional elections in the United States cost $6.5 billion.
Disadvantages Of Simultaneous Elections
The main difference between the state assembly and Lok Sabha elections is that the regional parties focus on local issues while the national parties focus on national issues. Therefore, it is possible that the regional parties may not be able to strongly focus on local issues.
The regional parties will be unable to compete with the national parties when it comes to election expenses and election strategy. The assembly elections are closely linked to local issues and local voters. Therefore, the regional parties will not accept a one-time election.
Currently, almost all regional parties are asking to conduct the election through ballot papers. Therefore, if the election is held in one time mode, the results will be declared late.
According to IDFC, the Indian voter is more likely to vote for one party for the state and the other for the center when the elections are held simultaneously, as India is a Union of States and the central government gives huge funds to the government of one party in the states.
Challenges and considerations of One Nation, One Election
India is known for its diversity, and holding elections simultaneously across the country presents many challenges. With state assembly elections held at different intervals and Lok Sabha elections held every five years, aligning these electoral processes requires careful planning and constitutional amendments.
Legislative assembly elections have recently been held in many states or are going to be held soon. Coordinating the rescheduling of these elections in line with the proposed “One Nation, One Election” concept is a complex task. Balancing the interests of different states and political parties adds another layer of complexity to the process.
During the special session, a wide spectrum of electoral and legislative reforms, including the presentation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill, are likely to be discussed. The UCC seeks to unify the personal laws governing different religious communities in India. Although it has been a topic of debate and discussion for decades, its introduction during the special session would signal a concerted effort to drive legislative changes.
The establishment of the committee under the leadership of former President Kovind is an important milestone in India’s journey towards electoral reforms. As the deliberations unfold during the special session of Parliament, the nation will closely watch how these proposed changes will impact its democratic processes and the path forward for “one nation, one election”.
Is One Nation, One Election possible in India?
“One Nation, One Election” is an Indian political proposal that would synchronize the timing of all elections throughout the country. The plan is to get all political parties on board and stick to a timeline.
However, holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies presents logistical challenges. These difficulties include the simultaneous deployment of manpower.
The government has formed an eight-member committee to investigate the viability of the “One Nation, One Election” policy. The committee’s chairman is former President Ram Nath Kovind.
The “One Nation, One Election” debate began in 2014–15, when the Election Commission was asked about the possibility.
The challenges of implementing One Nation, One Election
The most difficult challenge in putting “One Nation, One Election” into action is aligning the terms of state legislative assemblies with those of the Lok Sabha. This would necessitate constitutional changes to shorten or lengthen the terms of state legislative assemblies.
Other challenges can include:
- Legal challenges include amending the constitution, enacting new legislation, and reaching an agreement among states.
- Challenges in logistics and administration, such as coordinating elections across the entire country,
- Development is hampered because new schemes and policies cannot be implemented during elections.
- Influencing voter behavior
To hold concurrent elections, the constitution, the Representation of the People Act 1951, and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and state assemblies would all need to be amended.