Kovind panel recommends simultaneous polls, common electoral roll

Polling officials carry electronic voting machines at a counting centre at Prayagraj in UP. File photo: PTI

New Delhi: A high-level committee on Thursday recommended simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and state assemblies as the first step followed by synchronised local body polls within 100 days.
In its report submitted to President Droupadi Murmu that ran into over 18,000 pages, the panel headed by former president Ram Nath Kovind said simultaneous polls will spur development process and social cohesion, deepen foundations of democratic rubric and help realise aspirations of "India, that is Bharat".

The committee approached 62 parties out which 47 responded -- 32 in support of holding elections simultaneously, 15 against it. The rest (15 parties) did not submit a response, according to the report of the panel.

Among the national parties, the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) opposed the proposal, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and National People's Party supported it.

The AAP, Congress and CPM rejected the proposal saying it undermines democracy and the basic structure of the Constitution, said the report.

Among state parties, AIUDF, Trinamool Congress, AIMIM, CPI, DMK, Naga People's Front, and Samajwadi Party opposed the proposal to hold simultaneous elections.

Common electoral rolls
The panel recommended preparation of a common electoral roll and voter ID cards by the Election Commission of India in consultation with state election authorities. The panel recommended several constitutional amendments, most of which will not need ratification by states.

At present, the ECI is responsible for Lok Sabha and assembly polls, while local body polls for municipalities and panchayats are managed by state election commissions.

Kovind was accompanied by other panel members, including Home Minister Amit Shah, former Finance Commission chairman N K Singh, former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap, former leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, when they submitted the report to the president at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The report is an outcome of extensive consultations with stakeholders, experts and research work of 191 days, since its constitution on September 2, 2023, a statement said.

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