One Nation, One Election: BCI Chairman’s Key Reform Proposals

The Chairman of the Bar Council of India (BCI), Manan Kumar Mishra, has submitted recommendations to the High-Level Committee for ‘One Nation, One Election,’ outlining key changes needed for the successful implementation of simultaneous elections across India. This ambitious proposal suggests holding elections for both the Central and State governments concurrently, requiring significant adjustments in the legal and administrative frameworks.

Mishra’s first suggestion revolves around the need for a Constitutional amendment. He underscores the importance of aligning the terms of State Assemblies with that of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. This would necessitate modifications to several articles in the Constitution, including Articles 83, 85, 172, 174, and 356, which pertain to the duration and sessions of parliamentary and state legislatures. Additionally, he recommends examining Articles 243K and 243ZA, which address the establishment of State Election Commissions for Panchayats and Municipalities.

Another crucial aspect of Mishra’s proposal is the empowerment of the Election Commission of India (ECI). He suggests enhancing the resources and authority of the ECI to efficiently manage the logistics and execution of simultaneous elections. This might require a restructuring of the Election Commission to handle the increased workload and complexity.

The third suggestion focuses on amendments to electoral laws, particularly the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and other relevant statutes. Mishra proposes provisions for coordinated polling schedules, uniform campaign periods, and expenditure limits for both parliamentary and state elections to ensure fairness.

Political funding reforms take center stage in Mishra’s fourth recommendation. He emphasizes the need for transparent procedures governing political funding and campaign finances to promote equitable electoral practices and reduce the influence of monetary power.

Administrative preparedness is another critical aspect highlighted by Mishra. He stresses the importance of comprehensive coordination between the Union and State governments for effective execution. This involves overseeing security measures, polling station management, deployment of election personnel, and logistical requirements.

Mishra also underlines the significance of public awareness and voter education for the success of ‘One Nation, One Election.’ He suggests extensive initiatives to educate the public about this new electoral paradigm, acknowledging that a shift of this magnitude demands careful planning, consensus-building among political entities, and a thorough assessment of its potential impact on democratic principles.

The letter delves into the advantages and challenges associated with simultaneous elections. Advantages include cost and administrative efficiency, continuous governance, voter convenience, decentralization of power, greater policy focus, and reduced security concerns. However, potential disadvantages include the need for significant constitutional changes, an overemphasis on national issues, and the influence of national trends on State elections.

In conclusion, Mishra’s suggestions revolve around constitutional amendments, empowering the Election Commission, electoral law amendments, political funding reforms, administrative preparedness, and public awareness to pave the way for ‘One Nation, One Election’ in India. These changes, though substantial, aim to enhance the integrity and efficiency of the electoral process, reflecting a paradigm shift in the nation’s democratic landscape.