In a big move, the Centre has set up a panel led by former President Ram Nath Kovind to study the 'one nation, one election' proposal, a resolution issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice stated.
Why? The resolution, dated 2 September, stated that as "in the national interest it is desirable to have simultaneous elections in the country, the Government of India hereby constitutes a High-Level Committee to examine the issue of simultaneous elections and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections in the country."
Who are the members? Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, ex-MP Ghulam Nabi Azad, ex-chairman of the 15th Finance Commission NK Singh, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Dr Subhash C Kashyap, senior advocate Harish Salve, and former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari are the other members of the committee.
'One nation, one election' means holding polls for all state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha simultaneously. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often spoken in support of the proposal publicly.
Why is this important? The decision by the Centre comes a day after Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi announced the holding of a special session of Parliament from 18-22 September. What remains to be seen is whether a Bill concerning 'one nation, one election' will be tabled during the session.
'One Nation One Election Aimed at Deflecting Attention': Opposition
The Opposition, however, slammed the decision, saying that the panel was being formed to "deflect attention from real issues."
"For this (one nation one election), not just an amendment in the Constitution but also approval of states is also needed. In BJP-ruled states like Haryana and Maharashtra, they can decide and pass a proposal in the Cabinet to dissolve their respective assemblies. You can't just cut short the duration of a State assembly, it doesn't work like this," Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath said while addressing a press conference.
Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut raised concerns that the proposal may cast a shadow over a "fair election".
"One nation, one election is fine, but there should be a fair election. They (Centre) have brought this to postpone our demand for a fair election. 'Mujhe lagta hai yeh ek shadyantra hai chunaav aage dhakelne ke liye' ('I feel this is a conspiracy to postpone elections')," he said.
The Aam Aadmi Party also opposed the move, alleging that the Centre was trying to deflect attention from the Hindenburg report's allegations against Adani enterprises.
"I am very convinced that this is just a debate to deflect from the real issue of Hindenburg report 2.0. The Union government is scared of the growing popularity and footprints of the INDIA bloc and may push for early elections in this (upcoming Parliament) session," he told IANS.