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Business News/ Politics / News/  One Nation, One Election: Ram Nath Kovind-led panel backs simultaneous polls: 10 frequently asked questions answered
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One Nation, One Election: Ram Nath Kovind-led panel backs simultaneous polls: 10 frequently asked questions answered

The panel led by former President Ram Nath Kovind stated in its 18,626-page report that it was of unanimous opinion that simultaneous polls should be held in India.

One nation, one election: The high-level committee on simultaneous elections, chaired by former President Ram Nath Kovind, on Thursday, met President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan and submitted its report.Premium
One nation, one election: The high-level committee on simultaneous elections, chaired by former President Ram Nath Kovind, on Thursday, met President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan and submitted its report.

The high-level committee on 'One Nation, One Election' on Thursday submitted its report to President Droupadi Murmu, pitching for simultaneous polls across the country.

The panel, headed by former president Ram Nath Kovind, has recommended amending the last five articles of the Constitution to enable the holding of simultaneous polls in the country after the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in 2024.

The Committee is of unanimous opinion that simultaneous polls should be held, the panel led by former President Ram Nath Kovind said in its 18,626-page report.

Here are 10 frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding One Nation One Election:

1- What is One Nation, One Election or simultaneous elections?

Simultaneous elections, popularly known as ‘One Nation, One Election,' means holding elections to Lok Sabha, all the state assemblies, and local bodies i.e., municipalities and panchayats, together.

2- Have simultaneous elections been held in India before?

The first four general elections involved simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The Congress party was in power at both the national and state levels then. Hence it was possible until the fourth general election in 1967. Later, the elections were held separately due to the advancing of Lok Sabha polls by the Congress.

Also Read: ‘One Nation, One Election’: Why PM Modi govt wants to implement it?

With the disruption of the cycle of simultaneous elections thereafter, the country now faces five to six elections each year. If municipal and panchayat elections are also included, the number of elections will increase manifold.

As of now, the Lok Sabha elections coincide with four state assembly elections - Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim.

3. Why is there a need for simultaneous elections?

Simultaneous elections have been drawing the attention of political parties and their leaders for quite some time now. The argument in favour of simultaneous elections is that frequent elections burden the government exchequer. Also, asynchronous elections lead to disruption of government machinery causing hardship to citizens. The frequent use of government officials and security forces adversely affects the discharge of their duties and frequent imposition of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) causes policy paralysis and slows down the pace of the developmental programmes.

4. What is the latest?

The BJP has been pushing to hold simultaneous elections since it came to power in 2014. The NITI Aayog backed the proposal in 2017, and next year, the then President, Ram Nath Kovind, mentioned it in his address to the joint session of Parliament. In August 2018, the Law Commission released a draft report examining the legal-constitutional aspects. In his Independence Day speech in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the need to hold simultaneous elections.

5. What is the high-level committee?

In September 2023, the Union government constituted a six-member panel led by former President Ram Nath Kovind to ‘examine and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections’ in the Lok Sabha, state assemblies and local bodies. The other members of the panel are Union Home Minister Amit Shah, former leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Finance Commission chairman NK Singh, former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap and senior advocate Harish Salve.

Also Read: One nation, one election: Ram Nath Kovind panel submits report to President Droupadi Murmu. 5 points

The panel held 65 meetings at Jodhpur Officer's Hostel in New Delhi as on March 10, 2024, and submitted its report to President Droupadi Murmu, pitching for simultaneous polls across the country, on Thursday.

6. What are the key recommendations of the committee?

The Committee recommended amendments to the Constitution to enable simultaneous elections in two steps: Simultaneous elections will be held for the House of the People (Lok Sabha) and the State Legislative Assemblies. Elections to the municipalities and the panchayats will be synchronised with the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies in such a way that municipal and panchayat elections are held within a hundred days of holding Lok Sabha elections and the State Legislative Assemblies.

The panel also recommended amendments to the Constitution to enable the Election Commission of India to prepare a single electoral roll and EPIC in consultation with the State Election Commissions. These amendments will require ratification by not less than one-half of the States.

7- What if there is a hung House?

In the event of a hung House, no-confidence motion, or any such event, fresh elections should be held to constitute the new House of the People or State Legislative Assembly for the unexpired term of the House of the People.

Also Read: Lok Sabha elections 2024: Gyanesh Kumar, SS Sandhu to be appointed as new Election Commissioners

The Committee recommends that to meet logistical requirements, the Election Commission of India will plan and estimate in advance in consultation with the State Election Commissions, and take steps for the deployment of manpower, polling personnel, security forces and EVMs/VVPATs so that free and fair simultaneous elections are held in all the three tiers of the government.

8-How will local body elections be synchronised with Assembly elections and Lok Sabha polls?

Elections to the municipalities and the panchayats (local bodies) will be synchronised with the House of the People (Lok Sabha) and the State Legislative Assemblies in such a way that municipal and panchayat elections are held within a hundred days of Lok Sabha polls and the State Legislative Assembly polls. This will require ratification by not less than one-half of the States.

9-What are the advantages of simultaneous elections?

The argument in favour of simultaneous elections is that it will ensure ease and convenience to voters, avoid voters’ fatigue and facilitate greater voter turnout. Also, conducting elections to all three tiers of the government together would avoid disruption of supply chains and production cycles due to migrant workers seeking leave of absence to cast their vote and reduce the financial burden on the government exchequer.

10-What are the international examples?

The panel studied the system of simultaneous elections in countries such as South Africa, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Committee held that considering the uniqueness of its polity, it would be best to develop an appropriate model for India.

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Published: 14 Mar 2024, 02:58 PM IST
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