❏      The issue of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies has been referred to the Law Commission for further examination, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told the Lok Sabha.

The Minister argued in favour of holding simultaneous elections as it would not only result in savings to the exchequer but it also enlist “imperatives” such as amending the Constitution and bringing all political parties on board.

Simultaneous elections would require amendments in “not less than five” Articles of the Constitution —

❏      Article 83 relating to duration of Houses of Parliament,

❏      Article 85 dissolution of Lok Sabha,

❏      Article 172 duration of the State legislatures,

❏      Article 174 dissolution of the State legislatures,

❏      and Article 356.

What is the Simultaneous elections/'One Nation One Election' system?

  • The current electoral system of the country holds separate polls for the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies in a gap of five years.
  • The term of state assemblies may not necessarily be in sync with one another or that of the Lok Sabha.
    •        As a result, the mammoth task of conducting elections goes all round the year.
  •        One Nation One Election proposes that simultaneous elections be held in all states and the Lok Sabha in a gap of five years.
    •        This will involve the restructuring of the Indian election cycle in a manner that elections to the states and the centre synchronise.
    • This would mean that the voters will cast their vote for electing members of the LS and the state assemblies on a single day, at the same time (or in a phased manner as the case may be).

Historical Background

  • Simultaneous polls to states and Lok Sabha is not a newly conceived norm.
  • In fact, simultaneous elections have previously been conducted in India in 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967.
    • Soon after, this norm was discontinued following the dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies between 1968 -69.
  • The idea of reverting to simultaneous polls was mooted in the annual report of the Election Commission in 1983.
  • The Law Commission’s Report also referred to it in 1999.
  • In 2018, the Law Commission submitted a draft report endorsing the implementation of simultaneous polls, recommending changes to the electoral laws and Articles pertaining to the same.
    • The Law Commission has suggested that simultaneous elections can only be held through appropriate amendments to the Constitution.
      •        The Commission further opined that at least 50% of the states must ratify the constitutional amendments.


Arguments in favour of Simultaneous Elections/ ONOE

  • Reduction in cost: Multiple elections at different times lead to a huge cost to the exchequer in the form of lost time, labour and financial costs.
  • Simultaneous polls will boost voter turnout
  • Engagement of security forces:
  • Impact on social fabric: Frequent elections perpetuate caste, religion, and communal issues across the country as elections are polarising events.
  • Focus on populist measures: Frequent elections will impact the focus of governance and policymaking as it forces the political class to typically think in terms of immediate electoral gains rather than focus on long-term programs and policies.
  • Hampering values of democracy: Smaller parties with less capital and money for election expenditure could not compete equally with larger parties with deep pockets.With simultaneous elections, the election expense

will be reduced thus allowing for more level playing field.

Arguments Against

  • The primary cause of concern amongst parties that have opposed simultaneous polling is that of

Constitutional glitches and anti-federal consequences.

    • Some believe that this shall impact the voting judgement of the people and this new process shall require manpower and machinery (EVMs and VVPATs) on a humongous scale.
  • The Opposition parties had argued that such deliberations will adversely affect the federal nature of the Indian political system.
    •        National issues and State issues are different in nature and implementation.
      • The national election is dominated by issues about national interests, while state elections deal with local issues.
      • With simultaneous elections, national issues may dominate

state issues.


  • Accountability: Again, regular elections mean that the government is under an obligation to

listen to the will of the people lest it loses the elections in one state or the other.

  • Difficult to Maintain Synchronisation: It is difficult to maintain simultaneous elections in a democracy. As soon as any government loses confidence in its assembly, again the system will fall into disarray.
  • Tampering democratic will.
    • The present system has been consciously chosen by our forefathers to uphold the will of democracy by providing for regular elections so that people can express their will through the right to vote.
      • However, modifying the election system would mean tampering with the power of people to express their democratic will.

Way forward

  • Simultaneous election is an idea whose time has come. However, since the issue is concerned with the federal structure of the Constitution, it needs to be discussed and debated properly across the political spectrum to assuage the concerns of regional parties. This will make it easier to implement the idea in the country.
  • Ideally, the ‘one nation, one election’ system should reduce the amount of time, energy and resources invested in the conduct of polls. If simultaneous polls do reduce the duration of conducting polls, political parties will have ample time to address national issues and enhance governance.
  • The law commission’s recommendations suggest that there is a feasibility to restore one nation one election concept as it existed during the first two decades of India’s independence.