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Proposal for Simultaneous Elections in India


The High-level Committee on Simultaneous Elections, led by former President Shri Ram Nath Kovind, has proposed a significant electoral reform advocating for simultaneous elections across Lok Sabha, state Assemblies, and local bodies in India. The committee’s comprehensive report, submitted to President Droupadi Murmu, includes recommendations and constitutional amendments aimed at facilitating this monumental change in the Indian electoral system.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Recommendations of the High-level Committee on Simultaneous Elections
  2. About ‘one-nation, one- election’

Recommendations of the High-level Committee on Simultaneous Elections

Transition to Simultaneous Elections

Constitutional Amendment Proposal:

  • The Committee recommends amending Article 82A of the Constitution to authorize the President to designate an “Appointed Date” for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
  • State assemblies holding elections after this date would align their terms with the Parliament, facilitating simultaneous polls.

Timeline Considerations:

  • If adopted, the first simultaneous elections could potentially occur in 2029 after the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
  • Alternatively, if aiming for the 2034 polls, the “Appointed Date” would be determined post the 2029 Lok Sabha elections.
  • States with elections scheduled between June 2024 and May 2029 would see their terms ending concurrently with the 18th Lok Sabha, even if it results in shorter state assembly terms as a one-time measure.
Implementation Strategies

Government Decision Making:

  • The government elected after the 2024 polls would decide the implementation timeline, either targeting 2029 or 2034 based on their preference.

Contingency Planning:

  • To maintain synchronization in case of early dissolution of Parliament or state assemblies, fresh elections would only be held for the unexpired term until the next cycle of simultaneous polls.
Integration with Local Elections

Legislative Measures:

  • Parliament is advised to pass legislation, possibly introducing Article 324A, to synchronize Municipalities and Panchayats elections with General Elections.
Electoral Roll Harmonization

Constitutional Amendment Proposal:

  • Amend Article 325 to empower the Election Commission of India (ECI) to prepare a single electoral roll and Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC) for all government tiers in consultation with State Election Commissions (SECs).
Logistical Planning

Preparation and Coordination:

  • The Committee urges the ECI and SECs to develop comprehensive plans and estimates covering equipment, personnel deployment, and security measures to ensure smooth logistical arrangements for simultaneous elections.
Rationale for Simultaneous Elections

Governance Stability:

  • The Committee emphasizes synchronized elections’ role in avoiding policy paralysis and creating a conducive environment for effective decision-making and sustained development.

About ‘one-nation, one- election’

  • The concept of “One Nation One Election” proposes the synchronization of elections for all states and the Lok Sabha within a five-year span. This entails restructuring the electoral cycle in India so that elections at both the state and central levels align. This would mean voters casting their ballots for members of both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies on a single day, concurrently or in phases if necessary.
  • Recent developments have seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocating for “One Nation One Election,” underscoring its significance during the 80th All India Presiding Officers Conference.
Historical background of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  • Historically, simultaneous elections have occurred in India in the years 1952, 1957, 1962, and 1967. However, this practice was discontinued following the dissolution of certain Legislative Assemblies in the late 1960s, leading to separate elections for the Centre and states.
  • The idea of returning to simultaneous elections was initially suggested in the Election Commission’s 1983 report and was mentioned in the Law Commission’s 1999 report as well. Since 2014, the BJP government has ardently supported the notion.
  • In 2018, the Law Commission released a draft report endorsing the implementation of simultaneous elections and suggesting necessary amendments to electoral laws and relevant Articles. The report addressed legal and constitutional challenges linked with conducting simultaneous elections and advocated for constitutional amendments ratified by at least 50% of the states.
Merits of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  • Cost Reduction: The concurrent conduct of elections minimizes expenses associated with multiple elections, including time, labor, and financial costs, which arise due to movement of security personnel and diversion of state resources.
  • Enhanced Voter Turnout: Simultaneous polls could potentially boost voter participation.
  • Better Use of Security Forces: Frequent elections limit the availability of security forces for other crucial tasks.
  • Focus on Governance: Continuous elections divert the focus of governance towards short-term electoral gains, sidelining long-term policies and programs.
Demerits of ‘one-nation, one- election’
  • Constitutional and Anti-Federal Concerns: Critics argue that the move might impact the federal nature of the Indian political system, as national and state issues differ.
  • Accountability: Fixed tenures might lead to a lack of accountability among government officials.
  • Difficulty in Synchronization: Maintaining synchronized elections is challenging, especially given the likelihood of government assemblies losing confidence.
  • Tampering with Democracy: Altering the election system could impact people’s democratic will.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024