Former president Ram Nath Kovind to head committee on ‘one election’
In an unprecedented move, the government has formed a committee headed by the former president to look into the feasibility of ‘one nation, one election’
In yet another knee-jerk reaction—following the announcement of a special session of Parliament on 18 September, barely three weeks after the end of the monsoon session—the Central government has formed a committee headed by a former president to look into the ‘possibility’ of holding 'one election' in the country, per PTI and IANS reports of 1 September.
No confirmation was available at the time of writing, as the Press Information Bureau (PIB) maintained a studied silence till 10:30 a.m. If the news is true, this will be the first time a former president—Ram Nath Kovind, in this case—will head a committee on a potentially contentious and divisive political issue.
Appointing such a committee makes little sense barely months before the elections to five state assemblies and with the Lok Sabha election due in April–May next year.
It also does not make sense because the proposal, backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requires a constitutional amendment to be passed by both houses of Parliament with a two-thirds majority and 50 per cent of the state assemblies in agreement.
But the pro-government media has been crowing about the possibility that the state elections in the five states, in each of which the Bharatiya Janata Party is said to be on the backfoot, will be postponed. Many in the press apparently believe they will now only be conducted along with the Lok Sabha elections next year.
‘This government can do anything’ is the narrative being spread.
The ‘one nation, one election’ solution has been extensively discussed since 2017, however, and even the Law Commission went into the question and made a series of suggestions in 2018.
The proponents point out that simultaneous elections were held in the country till 1967, when the chain was broken following political instability. It would save expenses and free governments up to concentrate on governance were the other arguments advanced.
The timing of the two surprise announcements, however, lends credence to the speculation that they are meant to confuse and divide the Opposition and also divert attention from more pressing issues, both economic and political.