Ex-President Kovind-headed committee to explore possibility of 'one-nation, one-election'

Assembly polls are due in five states in November-December and they will be followed by the Lok Sabha elections in May-June next year.
Former president Ram Nath Kovind. (Photo | PTI)
Former president Ram Nath Kovind. (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Amid speculation of advancing general elections, the government on Friday constituted a seven-member committee led by former President Ram Nath Kovind to study the legal and constitutional feasibility of the ‘one nation, one election’ concept.

It came a day after the government called a special session of Parliament from September 18 to 22. 

However, the Opposition bloc INDIA lashed out at the panel, calling it a threat to the country’s federal structure. 

Assembly polls are due in Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Rajasthan in November-December. Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh assemblies are scheduled to go to the polls with the Lok Sabha elections in May-June next year.

Ever since coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been articulating the idea of simultaneous polls. In 2018, during his address to the joint session of Parliament, Kovind suggested wide deliberations on the proposal of holding Lok Sabha and all state elections simultaneously. 

Union minister Pralhad Joshi said the committee will hold consultations with all stakeholders, including legal luminaries. The panel may also consult leaders of different political parties. Kovind has a good understanding of the law, as he is an advocate by training. 

While there has been no official word yet on the composition of the panel, it could comprise retired judges of the higher judiciary and senior members of the Union Cabinet.

BJP national president J P Nadda met Kovind at his residence on Friday, days after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat called on the former President. Sources said the RSS, too, is in support of restructuring of the election cycle. 

Legal experts said introducing the ‘one nation one election’ system would require at least five constitutional amendments besides a lot of groundwork.

Kharge calls it diversion

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge called it a diversion. No matter how many diversions and distractions the regime throws, the citizens shall not be betrayed, he said

One nation, one election: BJP chief Nadda meets Kovind 

BJP chief JP Nadda on Friday met Ram Nath Kovind soon after the former President was tasked with the responsibility of heading a committee to explore the feasibility of "one nation, one election".

Nadda visited Kovind's residence in the national capital this morning. However, details of the meeting could not be immediately ascertained.

Kovind will explore the feasibility and the mechanism to see how the country can go back to having simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls, as was the case till 1967.

Since coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a strong votary for the idea of simultaneous polls, which include those at local bodies, citing the financial burden caused by the almost continuous election cycle and jolt to development work during the polling period.

Kovind too had echoed Modi's view and expressed his support to the idea after becoming President in 2017.

Addressing Parliament, he said in 2018, "Frequent elections not only impose a huge burden on human resources but also impede the development process due to the promulgation of the model code of conduct."

Like Modi, he had called for a sustained debate and expressed hope that all political parties arrive at a consensus on this issue.

(With inputs from PTI)

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