Modi’s ‘One Nation, One Election’ Plan Sparks Debate Among India’s Political Parties

Modi’s ‘One Nation, One Election’ Plan Sparks Debate Among India’s Political Parties

How Modi’s ‘One Nation, One Election’ panel spurred INDIA alliance to form its own committees

The idea of holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, popularly known as ‘One Nation, One Election’, has been a long-standing proposal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Modi has argued that frequent elections disrupt the development work and governance, and also entail a huge expenditure of public money and resources. He has also claimed that simultaneous polls would enhance the representation of people and ensure stability of the elected governments.

However, the opposition parties have strongly opposed this idea, citing various constitutional, logistical and political challenges. They have argued that simultaneous polls would undermine the federal structure of India, where states have different issues and priorities than the Centre. They have also pointed out that holding elections together would require a massive overhaul of the electoral system, including the Election Commission, the security forces, the electronic voting machines and the voter lists. Moreover, they have contended that simultaneous polls would favour the dominant national parties and reduce the diversity and plurality of Indian democracy.

In a bid to push forward his agenda, Modi recently formed a committee under former President Ram Nath Kovind to assess the feasibility and desirability of ‘One Nation, One Election’. The committee, which comprises eminent jurists, constitutional experts, former chief election commissioners and representatives of various political parties, is expected to submit its report by December 2023. The committee will also consult with various stakeholders, including civil society groups, media organisations and academic institutions.

However, the opposition parties have decided to boycott the committee, alleging that it is a mere eyewash and a ploy to impose the BJP’s will on the nation. Instead, they have formed their own committees to counter the government’s move and to prepare for the 2024 general elections. The opposition parties have come together under a new umbrella called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), which comprises 26 parties led by the Indian National Congress (INC). The alliance was announced in July 2023 in Bengaluru, where the leaders of the 26 parties unanimously adopted the name INDIA and declared their common objective of ousting the BJP from power.

The INDIA alliance has formed four sub-committees to deal with different aspects of the electoral strategy. The first sub-committee, headed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is tasked with drafting a common minimum programme (CMP) that will outline the alliance’s vision and agenda for the country. The second sub-committee, headed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is responsible for coordinating with regional parties and ensuring their participation and support for the alliance. The third sub-committee, headed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, is in charge of managing the media and social media campaigns and creating a positive image for the alliance. The fourth sub-committee, headed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, is entrusted with overseeing the logistics and resources for the elections, including fund-raising, booth management and voter mobilisation.

The INDIA alliance has also decided to hold regular meetings and consultations among its leaders and members to review the progress and challenges of its electoral preparations. The alliance has already held three meetings in Patna, Bengaluru and Mumbai, where it discussed various issues such as seat-sharing arrangements, candidate selection, manifesto formulation and campaign strategy. The alliance plans to hold its next meeting in Lucknow in October 2023, where it will finalise its CMP and announce its prime ministerial candidate.

The INDIA alliance hopes to present itself as a viable alternative to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which has been in power since 2014. The alliance claims to represent the aspirations and interests of all sections of society, especially the poor, the farmers, the minorities, the women and the youth. The alliance also promises to restore the constitutional values of secularism, democracy, federalism and social justice, which it alleges have been eroded by the Modi government. The alliance also vows to revive the economy, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns.

The ‘One Nation, One Election’ proposal has thus become a catalyst for the formation and consolidation of a formidable opposition front against Modi and his party. Whether this front will be able to challenge and defeat Modi in 2024 remains to be seen. However, one thing is certain: India is gearing up for a high-stakes electoral battle that will shape its future course.


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