The newly formed committee to see whether India could hold parliamentary and state assembly elections simultaneously will examine and recommend specific amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act and any other relevant rules.
The nine-member committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind will also check whether the amendments to the Constitution would need ratification by the states, according to the government’s gazette notification today.
It said the committee will start work immediately and give report as soon as possible.
The other members of the committee are Home Minister Amit Shah, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, former Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, former 15th Finance Commission chairman NK Singh, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash C Kashyap, senior advocate Harish Salve, and former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari.
The Congress party will consult its allies of the newly formed Opposition bloc INDIA on this committee before deciding whether to participate in the feasibility study, sources told NDTV today.
The committee will look into the feasibility of holding not only Lok Sabha and assembly elections simultaneously, but also elections to municipalities and panchayats, according to the gazette notification.
The committee will analyse and recommend possible solutions linked to simultaneous elections if there is a hung house, no-confidence motion, defection, or any such other event.
A single electoral roll and identity card for voters valid for the national, state, civic body and panchayat elections will be explored, the government said in the notification.
The BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have spoken on the need for ‘One Nation, One Election’ on several occasions, and it was also a part of the party’s manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Conducting polls simultaneously was the norm in India until 1967 and four elections were held this way. The practice stopped after some state assemblies were dissolved prematurely in 1968-69. The Lok Sabha was also, for the first time, dissolved a year ahead of schedule in 1970 and mid-term elections had been held in 1971.
In one of the first political reactions to the setting up of the committee, Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja told NDTV that the BJP is obsessed with ‘one nation, one party’ and it has been jittery since the Opposition united under the INDIA banner.