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Committee to Explore ‘One Nation, One Election’ led by former President Ram Nath Kovind ; India’s Next Big Move Amid Special Session of Parliament Scheduled From September 18 to 22

One Nation, One Election: there is widespread speculation that discussions around the ‘One Nation, One Election’ proposal could be on the table in special session of Parliament scheduled from September 18 to 22

New Delhi, 1 September(City Times): One Nation, One Election: In a significant development, the Indian government has formed a committee to explore the concept of “One Nation, One Election.” This initiative proposes the synchronization of elections for the national Parliament and state assemblies across India. The committee, led by former President Ram Nath Kovind, marks a substantial step towards realizing this long-debated idea.

Special Parliament Session Fuels Speculation

The government recently announced a special session of Parliament scheduled from September 18 to 22. While the official agenda remains undisclosed, there is widespread speculation that discussions around the ‘One Nation, One Election’ proposal could be on the table. However, no official confirmation regarding this has been provided by the government.

Understanding ‘One Nation, One Election’

‘One Nation, One Election’ essentially entails conducting Lok Sabha (national Parliament) and state assembly elections simultaneously throughout the country. This practice was prevalent during the early years of Indian elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expressed their support for this concept on multiple occasions. It was also a part of the BJP’s election manifesto during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Historical Context: Why the Old System Changed

Prior to 1967, India conducted elections in this synchronized manner. However, changes were introduced because some state assemblies were dissolved prematurely in 1968-69. Notably, the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, was dissolved a year earlier than scheduled in 1970, leading to mid-term elections in 1971.

BJP’s Stance in 2014

The BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha Election Manifesto included a commitment to explore methods for holding assembly and Lok Sabha elections concurrently. This move aimed to reduce election expenses for political parties and the government, offering greater stability for state governments. The manifesto stated, “We will also look at revising expenditure limits realistically.”

Prime Minister Modi’s Advocacy

Prime Minister Modi has consistently advocated for simultaneous elections, emphasizing that frequent elections place a significant burden on the nation’s resources and disrupt governance. He has argued that this reform could lead to better governance and economic development.

International Perspective: ‘Simultaneous Elections’ in Other Democracies

The concept of holding simultaneous elections, while not common, has been explored in various democracies worldwide. For example, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and South Africa have considered synchronized elections at different points in their political histories.

Sweden: Sweden has occasionally discussed the idea of synchronized elections to streamline its electoral processes. However, these discussions have not led to significant changes in the nation’s election schedule.

United Kingdom: The UK has debated the possibility of simultaneous elections for the House of Commons (equivalent to India’s Lok Sabha) and the devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The goal has been to align these elections for administrative efficiency, but this proposal has not been implemented.

South Africa: South Africa has explored synchronized elections at the provincial and national levels. While discussions have taken place, no concrete steps have been taken to implement simultaneous elections.

Opposition’s Perspective

However, the concept of ‘One Nation, One Election’ has faced opposition from some quarters. Critics argue that it might centralize power and limit diverse political voices. They also point out that this proposal has gained traction amid concerns from the ruling party regarding a united opposition.

Constitutional Amendment Required

Implementing ‘One Nation, One Election’ would necessitate a change in the Constitution, which serves as India’s fundamental legal framework. Such an amendment would require the support of two-thirds of the members in both the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Rajya Sabha (Council of States).

Upcoming Elections

Currently, elections in five Indian states—Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram—are scheduled for November-December. Additionally, Lok Sabha elections are expected to take place around May next year.

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