A Critical Analysis of the ‘One Nation- One Election’ Concept

Author- Mahendra Pratap Bharti, BALLB Student from Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida


Elections are one of the most important features of the Democratic form of government. Democracy implies a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. In a democracy, the ultimate power resides in the hands of the people. They can exercise this power directly and run the government, this form is known as direct democracy. On the other hand, they can elect their representatives, and those representatives form the government, this form is known as indirect democracy. However, elections are the crucial part of both forms of democracy. People exercise their power through the means of elections, they cast their votes and elect representatives of their choice. People can choose their representative who promises to fulfil their needs, and they also have the power to remove that representative from the government in the next election if he does not do so. Every democratic country has rules and regulations for conducting free and fair elections. These elections can be conducted for all the tiers of the government at the same time or at different intervals after a fixed period. This paper provides an analysis of the elections for all the tiers of government at the same time, the challenges and consequences of this mode of election, and the benefits of the mechanism.


Recently, a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Ram Nath Kovind (the former President of India), which was constituted to make a detailed analysis and present a report for implementing the ‘One Nation-One Election’ mechanism throughout the nation, submitted its report to the President of India.

Before we examine the report that has been submitted, let’s first understand what is meant by ‘one nation, one election’.

Elections are the most crucial part of democracy. People can elect the government directly through elections, or they can elect the representatives who will form the government through elections. So, elections are crucial to electing the government. In a country, generally, there are levels of government to maintain the decentralisation of powers. In India, there are three levels of government namely, the central government, the state government, and lastly, the gram panchayat, or municipalities. The elections are required at each level of government to elect the representatives who will ultimately hold office at that level of government for a period of five years. The election for electing the representative of the central government is popularly known as the Lok Sabha elections, while the elections for electing the representatives for the state government are known as the state legislature elections, and the elections for electing the government at the local level are known as the elections for the village panchayat and for the municipality, known as municipality elections.

So the ‘one nation, one election’ concept means the elections for all the tiers of government to be held at the same time. This same time does not mean that the elections will be held on the same date, but it does mean that the elections for all tiers of government will be held within the mentioned period. Let’s say that within a period of 4 months, the elections for all tiers of government are planned to be held. There are multiple benefits to this mechanism, while simultaneously it has some limitations, which we will discuss in the later part.

In India, the elections for all tiers of government are being held at different intervals. However, the concept of ‘one nation, one election’ is not new to the country.

History of the One Nation, One Election Concept

After independence, when the Constitution was enforced, there were provisions for only two tiers of government in India: the government at the central level and the government at the state level. The elections for both tiers of government were planned to be held at the same time. The general elections of 1952, 1957, 1962, and 1967 are examples of the same. The elections for both tiers of government were held at the same time, and there was synchronisation in the elections of both tiers.

Now, the question is: where did the change come when we already had the one nation-one election concept established in India?

Article 356 of the Constitution provides provision for ‘the Presidential Rule’ at the state level. This article gives power to the President of India to dissolve a state government on certain grounds and apply the President’s rule in that state. However, it is mandatory to hold the elections again once the situations for which the presidential rule was applied get normal.

During the late 1960s, within a span of a few years, the state governments of six states were dissolved. Those states where the presidential rule was applied were Assam (1968–69), Haryana (1967–68), Kerala (1964–67), Punjab (1968–69), Uttar Pradesh (1968–70), and West Bengal (1968–69). During these periods, the presidential rule was applied and the state governments were dissolved.

Now understand that when the period for the central as well as the state governments was running in parallel but then the presidential rule was applied to those states, this created a difference in the span of the governments of the state and central governments, and the synchronisation that was present between the central and state assembly elections got broken. Since the mentioned time limit for a government is 5 years, the further elections that were held after that maintained the gap. Now, the condition in India is that every year, either some state assembly elections are lined up or the central elections are planned to be held. This creates extra utilisation of the machineries and resources of the nation; we will discuss it later in detail. Let’s now understand whether implementation of the ‘one nation, one election’ is constitutionally possible.

Can ‘one Nation-one Election’ mechanism be implemented?

There are basically two main challenges in implementation of the ‘one Nation-one Election’ mechanism again in India.

Firstly, the synchronisation in the central and state assembly elections are vast now.  As we know that the Lok Sabha are planned to be started from month of April this year but the state assembly elections of multiple states were held last year like in Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh in 2023, some state assembly will dissolve next year like in Bihar and Delhi in 2025, while other in the upcoming next years like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat in 2027. So, in short there is big difference in the 5-year mentioned tenure of the governments.

The legislative must address the issue and resolve it before passing a law for the same. They must provide a solution for what can be done to again synchronise the elections of all tiers.

Secondly, the procedural challenge in implementation is needed to be addressed. Constitutional provisions in Articles 83, 172, & 356 provides for the duration of the Parliament, the state legislature & the state emergency or the Presidential rule in the states. 

Before making a law for the implementation of the ‘one Nation-one Election’ all these must be amended to synchronise the elections of the Parliament and state assembly. 

The provision for the amendment of the Constitution is provided under the Article 368 and it provides that to amend the Federal provisions of the Constitution, the amendment must be passed by the Parliament as well as it requires ratification from the half number of states present in India. So, there will be a procedural challenge in making a law for the ‘one Nation-one Election.’ Now let’s look at the report submitted by the committee in this regard.

Report of the Committee

The committee realised that throughout every year there are some elections lined up in the parts of India, which creates overspend on the machinery and resources of the nation. Also, the politicians are seen more in the election campaign than in the assembly. The committee presented its report on the ‘Simultaneous Elections in India’ to the President of India to curb these issues and provide a way for the implementation of the ‘one nation, one election’ mechanism.

The committee was headed by Shri Ram Nath Kovind as chairman, and the members of the committee were Shri Amit Shah, Shri Gulam Nabi Azad, Shri NK Singh, and a few others. A paper was published by the former Finance Commissioner, Shri NK Singh, addressing the overspend in the elections, and he claimed that simultaneous elections would resolve this issue. The committee, through its report, argued for the amendment of two articles and the addition of articles 82A and 324A to the Constitution of India.

Article 82A states that the President of India may issue a notification on the date of the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after the general elections and bring this Article into force. This article further states that all the legislative assemblies constituted in any general election, after the general election to the House of the People (Lok Sabha), shall come to an end with the expiry of the full term of the Lok Sabha. In short, it means that the state government that will be formed after the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 will dissolve with the expiry of the Lok Sabha full term in 2029.

Article 324A: It gives power to the Parliament to make a law for ensuring the elections to municipalities and panchayats are held simultaneously with the general elections to the Lok Sabha as well as to the state legislature.

The committee presented its report and contended that the simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha, state legislature, and local bodies will not only save the overuse of resources but also make the government of the respective level look after other problems in a better way.

Positive of the ‘one nation, one election’ policy

  • Cost expenditure

The general elections of the nation require a large amount of government machinery to be deployed. In India, an average of around 7 lakh polling booths are made for conducting the elections smoothly, which requires a large amount of expenditure in the elections. There is an estimation that around 60,000 crore rupees were spent on the 2019 elections.

  • Voter Awareness

In the current situation, elections are being held every year throughout the nation. In general, a voter has to visit a polling booth to give their votes separately in the elections to all tiers of government. When there will be simultaneous elections for all tiers of government, a citizen can better understand the value of his vote. Since there will be pressure in the minds that if he does not exercise his vote now, he will have to wait for the next elections, which will be held after 5 years.

  • Frequent Model Conduct Code Implementation

Elections are being held every year in different parts of the country, which means that every year the Model Conduct Code is enforced in those parts of the country, which interrupts the working of the institutions. When it is simultaneously conducted in the country, the MCC will be enforced for a few months only, which will boost the working period of the institutions.

  • Political polarisation

The political parties in their campaigns criticise the other political parties, and this creates a polarisation of people into different ideologies. Sometimes it leads to hatred against each other, so when there will be simultaneous elections conducted, this polarisation and campaign madness will happen only once every 5 years.

Challenges to the ‘one Nation-one Election’ Policy

Apart from the benefits mentioned above, there are certain challenges for the implementation of the law on ‘one nation, one election.’

  • Failure of governments

Suppose the general elections were held for the House of People as well as for the state legislature. And the government that was formed at the centre was a coalition government, and it falls before the expiration of its term. While the state government is running smoothly or the government of the state falls and the government at the centre continues, this will again disturb the synchronisation of the elections.

However, the report is also silent on this matter. The report only provides how the government can again start the ‘one nation, one election’ mechanism, but there is no provision to deal with the situation when the government of any level falls before its expiry term.

  • Accountability of the Politicians

People exercise their right to vote and elect the representative for a term of 5 years; before that, there is no ‘right to recall’ the representatives. Hence, in this situation, politicians will just come and lure the people before a few months of elections, and as soon as the elections get over and they form the government, they will not return to the people to meet even once until the next elections.

Currently, when there are elections every year, the politicians have to campaign and answer the question of whether they fulfilled the promises they made during the earlier elections. If they fail to comply with their promises, the people have the right not to vote for them in the subsequent elections, so ultimately, the elections increase the accountability of the politicians to work for the people.

  • Overshadowing regional issues

When there will be subsequent elections once every five years, the political parties will campaign on those issues only by means of which they can influence the whole nation and form the government at its centre, and regional issues will be overshadowed by national issues.

  • Impact on regional parties

The national-level parties will campaign with full force, address those issues through which they can influence the people, and make those promises that will lure the people of the whole nation. The regional parties will have a negative impact from the full-force campaign of nation-level parties in that area.

  • Monopoly of one party

The party that will be able to lure the public the most will be voted in power in the centre as well as in the state. And the subsequent elections will help the parties lure the public, and if they succeed in doing so, there will be a monopoly of one party in the whole nation, and other parties will get overshadowed by that party.

  • Expenditure by Parties

When the elections happen once every five years, the parties will take them as their sole opportunity to gain power, and for that, they will spend a huge amount of money on the elections, and the parties that do not have that much money will have no competition. So, elections once every five years will increase the expenditure by the political parties on their campaigns.


‘One Nation, One Election’ as a policy looks good from the outside perspective, but there are several challenges that the government will have to address before making law in this regard. The committee presented its report and provided the procedure through which ‘the subsequent election’ can again be installed in India, but the committee did not address those challenges where the government of either level fails before the expiration of its term. So, a critical analysis of the policy must be done before passing a law.


A Critical Analysis of the ‘One Nation- One Election’ Concept

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