Towards One Nation, One Election

The Law Commission of India proposes constitutional amendments for 'One Nation, One Election', aiming for simultaneous polls by 2029, with a phased approach and contingency measures in place.

The concept of "One Nation, One Election" has been gaining traction in India's political discourse, with various stakeholders deliberating on its feasibility and implications. Recently, the Law Commission of India has proposed significant amendments to the Constitution to facilitate simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha, state assemblies, and local bodies by 2029.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments:
The Law Commission, under the leadership of Justice (Retd.) Ritu Raj Awasthi, is set to recommend adding a new chapter to the Constitution specifically dedicated to simultaneous elections. This chapter will address key issues such as the synchronization of polls, the sustainability of simultaneous elections, and the establishment of a common electoral roll encompassing all levels of governance. The proposed amendments aim to streamline the electoral process and ensure efficiency in governance by reducing the frequency of elections and harmonizing electoral procedures across different tiers of government.

Synchronization of Polls:
The Commission envisages synchronizing the terms of legislative assemblies in three phases over the next five years to pave the way for simultaneous elections in 2029. This phased approach entails adjusting the tenure of certain state assemblies by a few months to align them with the overarching goal of simultaneous polls. By staggering the synchronization process, the Commission aims to mitigate potential disruptions while transitioning towards a new electoral paradigm.

Contingency Measures:
To address contingencies such as a hung assembly or a government collapse, the Commission proposes the formation of a "unity government" comprising representatives from various political parties. This interim arrangement aims to ensure continuity in governance and prevent the destabilization of the political system. In cases where a unity government is not feasible, the Commission advocates for holding fresh elections to fill the remaining term of the House, thereby maintaining the integrity of the electoral cycle.

Common Electoral Roll:
A critical aspect of the proposed amendments is the establishment of a common electoral roll encompassing all elections, from Lok Sabha to local bodies. Currently, disparate voter lists exist for different levels of governance, leading to inefficiencies and discrepancies in the electoral process. By instituting a common electoral roll, the Commission seeks to streamline voter registration and ensure equitable participation in the democratic process.

Feasibility and Implementation:
While the vision of "One Nation, One Election" holds immense appeal in terms of streamlining governance and reducing election-related expenses, its implementation poses significant logistical and constitutional challenges. The proposed amendments require widespread consensus among political parties, state governments, and other stakeholders. Furthermore, constitutional amendments entail rigorous scrutiny and debate, necessitating a robust political consensus to enact the proposed changes.

Potential Benefits:
Proponents of simultaneous elections argue that it will enhance political stability, reduce campaign-related disruptions, and enable policymakers to focus on governance rather than electoral politics. Additionally, it is believed to optimize resource allocation by consolidating election-related expenditures and minimizing administrative overheads. Moreover, simultaneous elections have the potential to foster a more informed electorate by facilitating a unified electoral discourse across all levels of government.

The proposal for "One Nation, One Election" represents a bold endeavor to overhaul India's electoral landscape and enhance the efficiency of its democratic institutions. While the envisioned reforms hold promise in terms of streamlining governance and reducing electoral expenditures, their successful implementation hinges on navigating complex constitutional, logistical, and political challenges.