Government Forms Committee to Explore ‘One Nation, One Election’
The Indian government has taken a significant step in considering the possibility of simultaneous elections across the nation. On Saturday, an eight-member high-level committee was notified to examine and make recommendations on the issue of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament), state assemblies, municipalities, and panchayats. This initiative, known as ‘One Nation, One Election,’ aims to synchronize various election processes to streamline the democratic process.
The committee, led by former President Ram Nath Kovind, comprises several prominent members from different political backgrounds. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, former leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, and former Finance Commission chairman NK Singh are among the committee members. Additionally, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash C Kashyap, senior advocate Harish Salve, and former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari complete the panel.
Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will attend the committee’s meetings as a special invitee, while Legal Affairs Secretary Niten Chandra will serve as the secretary of the panel.
Objective of the Committee
The primary objective of the Kovind-led committee is to investigate the feasibility of implementing the concept of ‘One Nation, One Election.’ This ambitious endeavor aims to hold all elections at the national and state levels simultaneously, reducing the frequency of electoral processes and their associated costs.
The committee’s mandate includes examining and recommending specific amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act, and any other relevant laws and rules. These amendments would be necessary to facilitate the holding of simultaneous elections effectively. Additionally, the committee will consider whether the proposed amendments to the Constitution would require ratification by the States.
Furthermore, the committee will analyze and recommend potential solutions for scenarios such as a hung House, the adoption of a no-confidence motion, defection, or any other significant events that may occur during simultaneous elections.
The committee is committed to being open to input from various stakeholders, including individuals, representations, and communications that can contribute to its work and help shape its recommendations.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s Dissent
However, not everyone is on board with the idea of ‘One Nation, One Election.’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a prominent Congress leader, has declined to be a part of the high-level committee. In a letter addressed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chowdhury expressed his reservations about the committee’s terms of reference and its conclusions. He labeled the initiative as a “total eyewash” and questioned the government’s motives in pushing for such a constitutional change shortly before the general elections.
Chowdhury also expressed disappointment over the exclusion of the current Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, from the committee. He characterized this exclusion as a deliberate insult to the parliamentary democracy system. In light of these concerns, Chowdhury declined the invitation to join the committee.
Understanding ‘One Nation, One Election’
The concept of ‘One Nation, One Election’ revolves around the idea of holding simultaneous elections across the country. Currently, elections for state assemblies and the Lok Sabha (Parliament) are conducted separately. Each state has its electoral cycle, typically held every five years, which may not align with the Lok Sabha elections.
Presently, five states, including Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, are set to conduct assembly elections in November-December, preceding the expected Lok Sabha elections in May-June 2024. Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh are scheduled to hold elections concurrently with the Lok Sabha polls.
The government is exploring the possibility of synchronizing some assembly elections with the Lok Sabha elections. The committee led by Ram Nath Kovind will assess the feasibility of this exercise and develop mechanisms to enable the country to return to having simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections.
In conclusion, the formation of the high-level committee marks a significant development in the ongoing discourse surrounding ‘One Nation, One Election.’ The committee’s deliberations and recommendations will play a crucial role in shaping the future of electoral processes in India.
(with inputs from PTI)
|Ram Nath Kovind (Chair)
|Union Home Minister
|Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
|Congress leader in Lok Sabha
|Ghulam Nabi Azad
|Former leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha
|Former Finance Commission chairman
|Subhash C Kashyap
|Former Lok Sabha Secretary General
|Former Chief Vigilance Commissioner