“New Delhi: The Central government announced on Friday the formation of a high-level committee to explore the concept of “One Nation, One Election.” Heading this committee will be former President Ram Nath Kovind, who will also be responsible for presenting a comprehensive report on the proposal. This development comes on the heels of the government’s declaration of a special session of Parliament, scheduled to convene from September 18th to September 22nd.
The notion of ‘One Nation, One Election,’ previously rumored in the media, gained significant attention following the announcement of the special parliamentary session. This idea has been a recurrent topic within the BJP, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi even incorporating it into the party’s agenda during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Historically, India held simultaneous elections until 1967, when this practice was abandoned after certain state assemblies were dissolved prematurely in 1968–1969.
Furthermore, the Lok Sabha was dissolved a year earlier than scheduled, leading to mid-term elections in 1971. Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to this concept has taken many by surprise, yet it is a pioneering and popular “pro-reform” initiative. There is a possibility that India may transition to a presidential form of governance in the near future.
The timing of this transition, whether it occurs by 2023–2024 or later, remains a question for future consideration. Such decisions are best left to the passage of time. The ‘One Nation, One Election’ concept aligns with the BJP’s political ideology, and even veteran BJP leaders like L. K. Advani have expressed support for a presidential system of governance in the past.
In fact, in 2018, then-President Ram Nath Kovind pointed out that “frequent elections not only impose a significant burden on human resources but also hinder the development process due to the implementation of the model code of conduct.” Modi has actively championed this idea, especially in the context of concurrent Lok Sabha and state assembly elections. Therefore, the government’s establishment of this committee underscores its commitment to addressing this issue.
These ideas gained momentum in 1998–1999 during the tenure of the Vajpayee government, following three years of political instability under the United Front, a coalition of regional and caste-based parties supported by Leftists and the Congress. Figures like K. R. Malkani and other BJP ideologues expressed deep concern about the state of Indian politics, marked by electoral violence, booth capturing, and the emergence of caste-based and criminalized politics.
For proponents of ‘One Nation, One Election,’ the electoral system was viewed as the root cause of these challenges and distortions. Implementing this concept could potentially lead to a presidential system of government, which would enhance the strength and stability of the central government, akin to the system in the United States. India has traditionally followed the British model, characterized by an accountable cabinet and a robust parliament. In contrast, the United States operates under a presidential system, featuring a strong central executive branch, with the judiciary working in close collaboration to fulfill its functions, sometimes with the judiciary wielding significant influence.
In the U.S., proponents argue that with the right checks and balances, the separation of powers has proven to be a viable system. However, adapting this concept to the Indian context presents its own set of challenges. (IANS)”