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Debating The Merits Of “One Nation, One Election”: Critics Vs. Proponents

By - King Stubb & Kasiva on March 19, 2024


The concept of "One Nation, One Election" has stirred a debate in India's political landscape. Headed by the High-Level Committee on One Nation, One Election, chaired by former President Ram Nath Kovind, the proposal aims to synchronize parliamentary, state assembly, and local body elections to streamline the electoral process. However, the recommendation of simultaneous elections has sparked divergent opinions among experts, political leaders, and citizens alike. The recommendation raised a significant concern regarding the feasibility and legality of this proposal. This article endeavours to explore the key challenges and arguments surrounding the "One Nation One Election" proposal.

The High-Level Committee's Recommendations:

The High-Level Committee on One Nation, One Election, comprising eminent figures such as former President Ram Nath Kovind, Home Minister Amit Shah, and former Chief Election Commissioner TS Krishnamurthy, submitted an extensive report advocating for synchronized elections.[1] The report outlines proposed amendments to the Constitution, statutes governing elections, and the presidential notification of an "appointed date" to kickstart the synchronized election process.

The proposed amendments encompass alterations to fifteen provisions of the Constitution, including modifications and new insertions. Notably, Article 82A is recommended for insertion to synchronize the terms of the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, and Article 324A for enabling simultaneous elections in Panchayat and Municipalities with the general election of the House of People and the State Legislative Assemblies.  Additionally, the report suggests amendments to Articles 83 and 172 to address scenarios like hung houses and no-confidence motions.[2]

Possible Challenges and Solutions in Implementation

To facilitate the transition towards simultaneous elections, the committee proposes the establishment of an Implementation Group tasked with executing the recommendations. However, challenges loom, particularly concerning the alteration of state assembly tenures and the potential impact on federalism. The major challenges and the possible solutions are:

Challenge 1:

A fundamental challenge posed by the concept of simultaneous elections pertains to the logistical complexities of orchestrating polls for multiple tiers of government concurrently. The Kovind-led panel recommends a phased approach, advocating for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies in the initial phase. Subsequently, elections for Municipalities and Panchayats are proposed to be synchronized within 100 days post the parliamentary and assembly polls.[3] This phased strategy aims to mitigate logistical hurdles while realizing the vision of simultaneous elections.

Challenge 2:

Constitutional experts have questioned the constitutionality of "One Nation One Election," contending that it deviates from the framers' original intent. Experts argue that the Constitution-makers envisioned simultaneous elections solely for the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. The introduction of mid-term elections, primarily post-1967, was deemed a necessity due to political exigencies rather than constitutional mandates. The crux of the debate lies in interpreting the constitutional provisions governing the duration and dissolution of elected bodies, particularly Articles 83 and 172.

Challenge 3:

Experts further argue that simultaneous elections do not guarantee immunity against political instability, as hung assemblies or governments falling mid-term remain plausible scenarios. To address this concern, the Kovind-led panel recommends conducting fresh elections in the event of a hung house or a no-confidence motion. This proactive approach aims to uphold democratic principles by facilitating the formation of stable governments and ensuring continuity in governance.

Challenge 4:

A significant contention raised against "One Nation One Election" revolves around the alteration of fixed terms for State Legislative Assemblies, which is perceived as contravening the basic structure of the Constitution. The debate hinges on the interpretation of Articles 83 and 172, which stipulate a five-year tenure for Parliament and State Assemblies. Critics argue that any deviation from this fixed term undermines the constitutional framework. However, proponents argue that the Constitution permits amendments to accommodate the exigencies of governance, as long as the core democratic principles are upheld.

Challenge 5:

The implementation of "One Nation One Election" necessitates extensive legal amendments, including modifications to the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Kovind-led panel recommends the introduction of Article 324A to enable simultaneous elections for local bodies, along with amendments to facilitate a single electoral roll and election ID. However, the legal challenges extend beyond mere amendments, requiring ratification by the states, particularly for synchronizing local body elections with parliamentary and assembly polls. This intricate amendment process underlines the constitutional intricacies inherent in the "One Nation One Election" proposal.

Challenge 6:

Another critical challenge pertains to logistical and manpower management, encompassing the procurement of equipment such as EVMs and VVPATs, deployment of polling personnel, and maintenance of security forces. The Kovind-led panel advocates for meticulous planning and coordination between the Election Commission of India and State Election Commissions to ensure the seamless conduct of simultaneous elections across all tiers of government. This strategic approach is imperative to uphold the integrity and fairness of the electoral process.

Challenge 7:

Critics argue that simultaneous elections pose a threat to federalism by centralizing power and undermining the autonomy of state governments. Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi highlights concerns that regional parties may be marginalized, and the diversity of state issues could be overshadowed by national agendas. However, Proponents of simultaneous elections emphasize the economic and administrative advantages. They argue that streamlining the electoral process would reduce the burden on various stakeholders, including the government, businesses, and civil society. Moreover, proponents contend that synchronized elections would enhance governance efficiency and policy continuity.

Challenge 8:

The critiques of the proposed amendments raise fundamental questions about democratic principles and accountability. The reduction of state assembly tenures and the potential truncation of elected governments' mandates have elicited apprehension among political parties and constitutional experts. Some experts even express skepticism regarding the efficacy of simultaneous elections, highlighting the complexities and potential pitfalls. Moreover, concerns are raised regarding the accountability of no-confidence motions and the practicality of synchronizing local body elections.

Unanswered Questions and Contemplations:

Despite the comprehensive recommendations put forth by the Kovind-led panel, certain questions remain unanswered, necessitating further deliberation and analysis. Concerns regarding distorted voting patterns, the impact on regional and smaller parties, and the influence of electoral cycles on governance dynamics warrant careful consideration. Moreover, the broader implications of simultaneous elections on democratic principles and political accountability necessitate nuanced examination and discourse.


The debate surrounding "One Nation One Election" encapsulates countless complexities, spanning constitutional validity, logistical feasibility, and political implications. While proponents advocate for administrative efficiency and policy continuity, critics emphasize the need to safeguard democratic principles and institutional integrity. As India navigates the intricacies of electoral reform, a balanced approach that reconciles administrative imperatives with constitutional safeguards is imperative. Ultimately, the realization of "One Nation One Election" hinges on meticulous planning, robust legal frameworks, and inclusive deliberation to ensure a nuanced approach that addresses diverse perspectives which is imperative to uphold the integrity of our democratic institutions.

[1] High level Committee submits its report on One Nation, One Election- Simultaneous Elections core to Aspirational India,

[2] Chapter X (Pg. 259-274),

[3] Page 278,

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