Prashant Kishor has offered conditional support to the “one nation, one election” proposal, acknowledging it to be “in the interest of the country… if done with correct intentions”. Mr Kishor – a poll strategist who has led several parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party to wins – said the benefits of a single poll may see reduced costs and fatigue to voters.
He also said “overnight changes” – seen by many as a swipe at the BJP over speculation it could advance the 2024 general election to coincide with state polls later this year – could lead to trouble.
“If done with correct intentions, and there (is) a transition phase of four to five years, then it is in the interest of the country. This was once in effect for 17-18 years.”
“In a country as large as India, around 25 per cent votes every year. So the people running the government remain busy in this circle of elections. If this is limited to one or two times, it will be better. This will cut down expenses and people will take a decision only once…”
“(But) if you attempt an overnight transition, there will be issues. The government is perhaps bringing a bill. Let it come. If the government has good intentions, it should happen and it will be good for the country,” Mr Kishor said in a video posted on X by news agency ANI.
#WATCH | On ‘One Nation, One Election’, Prashant Kishor says, “If this is done with the correct intentions and there be a transition phase of 4-5 years, then it is in the interest of the country. This was once in effect in the country for 17-18 years. Secondly, in a country as… pic.twitter.com/beTAZqf0Gl
— ANI (@ANI) September 4, 2023
Kishor’s tentative support comes as some opposition parties criticise the BJP on this issue. On Sunday Congress MP Rahul Gandhi called the idea an attack on the Union of India.
The Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has declined to be part of a committee, which excludes party boss Mallikarjun Kharge and includes ex-leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. In a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, also part of the committee, he called it “a deliberate insult to parliamentary democracy”.
“One Nation, One Election” Plan
On Friday a committee headed by ex-President Ram Nath Kovind was tasked with examining the feasibility of holding central and state elections simultaneously.
This was shortly after the government summoned a special session of Parliament this month, sparking rumours the ruling BJP plans to call for a general election later this year, when some states are also voting. There has, however, been no confirmation on the government’s agenda for this session.
Conducting simultaneous polls was the norm till 1967; four elections were held this way. The practice stopped after some state assemblies were dissolved prematurely. The Lok Sabha was also, for the first time, dissolved a year ahead of schedule in 1970.
The BJP had vowed to make “One Nation, One Election” a reality.
In earlier comments on this issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi argued holding elections every few months put a burden on India’s resources and caused breaks in governance.
What Is Needed For “One Nation, One Election”?
The committee headed by the former President will recommend specific amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act and other relevant rules to ensure the legality of simultaneous elections. It will also check if these amendments will, in fact, need ratification by at least 50 per cent of all states, which must pass them in their Assemblies. It will look into the feasibility of holding not only central and state elections simultaneously, but also to municipalities and panchayats.
With input from agencies