Is the concept of One Nation, One Election just a pipedream ?

New Delhi: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi, Government of India tweeted  that a special session of Parliament will be called from 18-22 September. He did not give any information about the agenda of the special session of Parliament, but speculations were being made that the Modi government is preparing for another masterstroke.

After the tweet of Minister Prahlad Joshi, political pundits speculated on many popular and important issues that may be discussed in the special session, in which the biggest issue that came to the fore is ‘One Nation One Election’. ).

The news that gave fuel to these speculations came  when the Center announced the formation of a ‘One Country One Election’ committee headed by former President Ramnath Kovind.

This announcement has created panic among the people associated with politics because doing this 3 months before the elections of 5 states in the month of December seems to indicate a big gamble. Before that let us know what is this one country one election issue and can it really be passed in the House?

What is ‘One Nation One Election’ concept and its history?

‘One country one election’ simply means that the general elections of the Lok Sabha and the assembly elections of the states in India should be held together and at the same time. Under this concept, there is a provision to change the election system which has been going on since 1970, in which elections to a state or Lok Sabha are held every year, to conduct simultaneous elections. The biggest reason behind doing this is to reduce the burden on the government exchequer due to separate assembly elections.

The issue of ‘one country one election’ is not a today’s issue, but after the independence of the country, the first general elections i.e. from 1952 to 1968 were conducted according to this election system. It had to be discontinued in 1968–69 because of the dissolution of some state assemblies due to various reasons. Since then the Government of India has been insisting on adopting the old electoral system. The Election Commission talked about ‘one country one election’ in 1983 but the Indira Gandhi government of that time was against it. Then in 1999, in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government, the report of the Law Commission talked about the old election system. Not only this, in the years 2018 and 2022 also in the Narendra Modi government, the Law Commission had advocated ‘one country one election’.

This theme was also supported by former President and Bharat Ratna late Pranab Mukherjee. However, in view of the Indian constitution, it is near impossible to bring back this old electoral system as it would require 5 major changes in the constitution which can be controversial.

Which articles of the constitution will have to be changed:

Significant constitutional changes are required to implement ‘One Nation One Election’ in India. The primary articles of the constitution which require amendment are –

Article 83 (Duration of the Houses of Parliament): This article sets a fixed term of five years for the House of Parliament, which can be dissolved by the President at any time. To enable simultaneous elections, this article should be amended to specify that simultaneous elections shall be held for all states and the Center at the end of the term. (Article 83)

Article 85 (Sessions of Parliament and Prorogation of Parliament): This article should be amended to make the sessions of both Houses of Parliament synchronous, ensuring that they meet concurrently. Currently, the President can summon and adjourn each house separately. (Article 85)

Article 172 (Term of State Legislatures): Article 172 provides for the membership of the House with a term of 5 years for the Legislative Assembly. It may be amended to specify a fixed term for state legislatures and to synchronize their dissolution and elections with those of the Lok Sabha, in order to facilitate simultaneous elections at the state level. (Article 172)

Article 356 (President’s Rule): According to Article 356, the President of India has the right to impose President’s rule in any state and suspend the state government. Provisions may be made to limit the term of President’s rule to the remainder of the term of the Lok Sabha, to hold simultaneous elections, while ensuring that state elections are in line with central elections. (Article 356)

Article 324 (Supervision, Direction and Control of Elections): The powers and responsibilities of the Election Commission should be redefined to include the organization of simultaneous elections, both at the Central and State levels. This change would require a constitutional amendment to empower the Election Commission to conduct such elections efficiently. (Article 324)

Whose advantage, whose loss:

The issue of One Nation One Election is considered to be one of the close agenda of the NDA and the BJP. This is because in the year 2019, a research organization named IDFC had told in its report that if all the elections are held in the country at once, 77% of the public will vote for the party sitting at the center.

IDFC said that they studied the data of elections from the year 2004 to 2019, which It was found that in every election held simultaneously, the victory percentage of the party sitting at the center has increased. However, if we talk about other benefits of this concept, according to the Law Commission, one country, one election will reduce the burden on the government treasury, speed up development work, save money and smooth functioning of the government machinery.

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