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Kovind-led panel backs One Nation One Election

Panel members said move will help optimize resources, boost voter turnout, and avoid disruption to governance

Kovind-led panel backs One Nation One Election
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

A panel headed by former president Ramnath Kovind tasked with studying the scope of holding synchronized elections to the Lok Sabha, state assemblies, and local bodies has submitted its recommendations to President Droupadi Murmu.

The report comprising of 18,626 pages, comes after the panel held discussions with stakeholders and experts over 191 days since it was constituted on 2 September last year.

The panel has recommended amendments in the constitution and suggested a two-step process to enable simultaneous polls, starting 2029. The panel recommended using a single electoral roll and photo identity card (EPIC) for all three tiers of elections.

In a report consisting of 21 volumes, committee members unanimously proposed synchronized elections in all three tiers, suggesting that such a step would lead to a fundamental transformation in the electoral process and overall governance.

As a first step, the panel recommends beginning synchronized Lok Sabha and assembly polls, and said that this can be done without any constitutional amendment or ratification by the state as it is a one-time transition.

In the second step, the panel suggests holding local body elections within 100 days of completion of the first step.

The panel recommends that for carrying out the second step, several constitutional amendments are required that, too, with ratification from half of the states.

In cases like hung House or no-confidence motion, the panel has recommended fresh elections to constitute a new House of people or state legislative assembly for the remaining term of Lok Sabha.

The panel has recommended that the election commission, along with state election commissions, draw up a plan for the requirement of manpower, polling personnel, security forces, electronic voting machines/voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) for conducting simultaneous elections in all three tiers.

The panel has recommended changes in Articles 83 and 172, which states that the term of the Lok Sabha and state assembly will be five years from its first sitting.

The second constitutional amendment proposed by the panel is for a standard voter list for all tiers. This will require amendments to Article 325 on the ECIs remit and Articles 243K and 243ZA to empower the state election commission.

For Union territories like Delhi and Puducherry, the J&K Reorganization Act will also require amendments but will not need ratification from half of the states.

The committee recommends that when Lok Sabha meets for the first sitting after the Presidential notification, it will be considered as an appointed date, the tenure of all state legislative assemblies constituted in any election after the appointed date would come to an end after the expiry of full term Lok Sabha, to facilitate simultaneous polls in all assemblies with the next general election.

If the simultaneous poll cannot be conducted in one such state, the President may, on ECI’s recommendation, allow a delayed election for that state. Still, its term will be curtailed to coincide with Lok Sabha.

Backing this step, the members said that this move would help optimize resources, boost voter turnout, and avoid disruption to governance due to the application of a model code of conduct and mitigate negative impact on governance.

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