Former President Kovind began 'one nation, one election' spade work in June

Kovind was requested by Amit Shah to begin studying simultaneous poll plan on June 2; panel’s report could be tabled during the special Parliament session this month.
FILE - An image of Former President Ram Nath Kovind, used for representational purposes only. (Photo | PTI)
FILE - An image of Former President Ram Nath Kovind, used for representational purposes only. (Photo | PTI)

MUMBAI:  On June 2, four days after the inauguration of the new Parliament building, former President Ram Nath Kovind had two visitors, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Dr P K Mishra, principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

That meeting apparently set the ball rolling for the much-debated ‘one nation, one election’ scheme under the stewardship of Kovind, sources privy to the development said. It all began after the BJP’s defeat in the Karnataka polls. It really hurt the party and made it increasingly worried about the numbers in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, hence the simultaneous polls gambit.

But why Kovind?

Sources said the former President keeps a low profile but is capable of handling intricate legal matters. Besides, he is trusted by Modi. “Modi quietly asked his trusted party functionaries to prepare the ground for simultaneous polls so as to loosen the Opposition consolidation ahead of the 2024 polls,” said a source. 

On Friday, Kovind was formally named the head of the ‘one nation, one poll’ panel. The names of its members were announced the following day. On Sunday, Union law ministry officials met Kovind ostensibly for the panel’s preparatory work. But preparatory work is what the former President appeared to be doing ever since he was sounded out on June 2.


A cursory look at his social media timeline indicates how he went about preparing the ground, meeting at least 10 governors within the last three months. Retired Presidents don’t have a busy itinerary. They generally enjoy their sunset years, perhaps writing a memoir or two. In contrast, Kovind started travelling around to Raj Bhavans and hosting governors and party leaders.

Between June 9 and August 29, he met at least 10 governors/administrators, some of them more than once, besides senior party leaders and the head of the RSS (see timeline). With the government formalising the panel’s appointment, it has already begun work on firming its proposals for simultaneous elections. Its report could also be tabled during the five-day special session of Parliament from September 18 to 22.

The thinking behind the draft is that Assemblies whose tenures expire around 2025 (like Maharashtra, West Bengal and ) would be dissolved, while the tenures of states that recently went to polls, such as Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, will get a year’s extension so that elections there can be held simultaneously in the next cycle, that is in 2029.

A senior leader said holding the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together could put the Opposition bloc, INDIA, in disarray. “In West Bengal, it will be difficult for Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Congress and Left parties to sew up an alliance for both the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, as each party would want to first protect its local interest. Similar problems would arise between the AAP and the Congress in Delhi, Punjab and elsewhere. The BJP hopes the regional parties that are with the Congress will squabble, giving the saffron party more elbow room,” said sources.

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