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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 2 January 13, 2024

Full text of CPI’s response to the High Level Committee – One Nation, One Election (submitted on January 10, 2024)

Friday 12 January 2024


Communist Party of India

January 10, 2024

Dear Sir,

We are in receipt of your Letter No. H. 11019/3/2023-Leg.II (HLC) Dated 1st of January, 2024 asking for the views of my party, the Communist Party of India, on the issue of holding simultaneous elections.

The Communist Party of India does not approve of or endorse holding simultaneous elections and the complex issues involved in coming to this viewpoint are examined in detail in the enclosure to this letter.

With regards,



o o

Dr. Niren Chandra,
High Level Committee – One Nation, One Election
Jodhpur Officers Hostel, Near National Gallery of Modern Arts,
‘C’ – Hexagon (India Gate Circle),
New Delhi – 110003

Communist Party of India’s Response to the High-Level Committee on One Nation, One Election

When our Constitution was being framed, the framers were well aware of the diversity of our country and this challenge needed addressal in many spheres. Our democratic beginnings were made on the basis of a holistic understanding of representation and responsible government in a very diverse country. Enactment of the Constitution expanded the scope of franchise greatly and made it universal for citizens above the age of 21 (Now at the age of 18), regardless of sex, religion, caste, place of birth or any other differentiator. A clear division of subjects between the Union and State Governments was designed to have clear expression of national and local aspirations. In this setup, recurring, free and fair elections were needed to channelize the democratic process and for this reason the Election Commission of India was made a permanent, independent body deriving authority directly from the Constitution’s Article 324.

In our current electoral system, democratically elected state governments have the right to continue in office till they enjoy the confidence of the Assembly or till the expiry of their term, i.e., 5 years. When our Constitution was being framed, Dr. Ambedkar and other leaders preferred responsibility over stability. The proposal to have ‘One Nation, One Election’ attempts to homogenize the opinion of the people of different states, as expressed in elections to state assemblies, with their opinion vis-à-vis the Union as expressed in the elections to the Lok Sabha. In such a scenario, responsibility and accountability will be the victims as political parties will meet the people only once in five years. If we follow this in practice, if the Lok Sabha is dissolved post a no-confidence motion or no coalition reaching a stable majority, all state assemblies will have to go through elections, regardless of whether a stable government was formed in the state or not. This is insulting the mandate people gave to the parties of the state and goes against the fundamentals of representative parliamentary democracy.

It is being argued that after the inauguration of our Republic, elections to assemblies and Lok Sabha were being held together. We should put some mind on why the cycle of simultaneous elections broke in the first place. The government formed by the Communist Party of India in Kerala after the second general elections in 1957 was one reason for this. The CPI ministry was one of the initial victims of the Article 356 of the Constitution and elections were held for the Kerala Assembly in 1960, separately from the General Elections. In the elections for Kerala Assembly held in 1965, again separate from the general elections, no party could prove majority and elections were held again in 1967, along with the general elections. This process was natural given the nature of electoral democracy and how people exercised their franchise. Elections were neither imposed, nor denied to bring the state assembly in synchronization with the Lok Sabha elections.

After 1967, other forces emerged on the political horizon that challenged one-party rule in most states. The dominant party lost power in as many as 8 states. The results produced by the 1967 elections were evidence of greater penetration of democracy and political parties that channelized emerging aspirations of the people fared better than the dominant party in the Union in many states. In other words, the break from the cycle of simultaneous elections was entirely democratic and legitimate form of the will of the people. This break itself is evident enough that in a federal parliamentary democracy, holding simultaneous elections for the House of the People and State Assemblies may have a restrictive effect on the franchise and verdict of the people, as different states may throw different results unaligned with the results for the Union. Post the demolition of the Babri Masjid, 4 state governments were dismissed by the President citing failure of constitutional machinery. Though the CPI is in opposition of President’s rule on a principled basis, many have demanded President’s rule in Manipur looking at the complete collapse of administration in the state. The proposal to have ‘One Nation, One Election’ have no remedy for these situations, except to perpetuate un-democracy in the states.

One major reason being offered for the desirability of ‘One Nation, One Elections’ is financial. Heavy premium is being posed on the idea as it will save the expenditure involved in holding elections by thousands of crores of rupees. Election expenses from the State, are those involved in setting up polling booths, payment of TA/DA to personnel, transport arrangements, purchase of ink etc. It is being argued that holding simultaneous elections will significantly reduce, or maybe halve, these expenditures. However, data sourced from the Election Commission of India tells us very clearly that electoral expenses are not simple variables and should be studied carefully before making such sweeping generalized remarks. For example, in Andhra Pradesh, simultaneous elections took place in 2014 and the average cost per assembly constituency was Rs. 1.66 crores. In another large state, Madhya Pradesh, elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assembly were held separately and the combined cost was Rs. 1.43 crore per constituency. Simultaneous elections or separate, the difference is small and ‘One Nation, One Elections’ is no panacea for electoral expenses or malpractices, except that it curtails people’s democratic franchise.

Further, ‘One Nation, One Election’ is also going to have fixed costs that may outweigh the financial prudence argument. To hold simultaneous elections, the procurement of EVMs on an unprecedented scale itself is a large expenditure apart from their safe storage for a five years period. It is illogical to keep the EVMs locked for five years when they can be used to conduct elections in different states and local bodies, just for the sake of saving money which is not guaranteed at all. What our country needs is comprehensive electoral reforms aimed at free and fair elections. One reason being cited for ONOE is reduced expenditure on account of political parties, without considering available options like state funding of elections as recommended by the Indrajit Gupta Committee. We must put an end to institutionalized corruption in the form of electoral bonds and should frame better laws to curtail money and muscle power in elections. Some have argued that ‘One Nation, One Election’ will reduce the instance of hate speech, since fewer rallies mean fewer instances of hate speech. The claim is only worthy of ridicule since instead of recommending stringent punishments for those who indulge in hate speech, it aims to curtail the number of interactions people have with political leaders. The bias of media houses is damaging the free flow of information, that needs tackling, not homogenizing elections.

The Communist Party of India opposed the proposal to have simultaneous elections when views were sought on the subject by the Law Commission of India. When written responses were submitted to the Law Commission of India on the issue of simultaneous elections, as many as 13 political parties outrightly opposed the move and 3 political parties expressed their apprehensions about the proposal, out of the total 26 parties that made submissions. 4 national political parties, including the CPI opposed the proposal while only 1 supported it. When consultations were held for the same again, 10 political parties opposed the move and 1 expressed apprehension out of the 21 parties that made representations. Again, 3 national political parties, including the CPI, opposed the proposal and only 1 national political party supported it. It’s clear that no consensus exists on the issue among stakeholders. The CPI firmly reiterates its position that the proposal to have ‘One Nation, One Election’ is restrictive for democracy and state rights. ‘One Nation, One Election’ is an attempt at curtailing diversity of opinion by imposing uniformity which would push the country towards one-party rule. The CPI vehemently rejects this notion which tries to morph India into an undemocratic and unaccountable state.


Communist Party of India
Central Office
New Delhi
Tele: 011 23235546
e-mail: cpiofindia[at]

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