A high-level committee led by former President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday recommended holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.

The panel on “one nation, one election” submitted its report, coming up to 18,626 pages, on the feasibility of implementing simultaneous elections to President Droupadi Murmu at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

It stated that the report was an outcome of consultations with stakeholders, experts and research work of 191 days.

In its report, the committee recommended a two-step approach for implementing simultaneous elections.

In the first step, the panel said that simultaneous elections could be held to the Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies initially. In the second step, municipality and panchayat elections could be organised within a hundred days of the elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.

The panel said that there is a need to bring back the cycle of simultaneous elections as had been held during the initial decades after Independence. Holding elections every year “casts a huge burden on the government, businesses, workers, courts, political parties, candidates contesting elections, and civil society at large”, the report said.

The panel also called for the preparation of a common electoral roll and voter identification cards by the Election Commission in consultation with the state-level election authorities.

It also recommended that the President issue a notification on the date of the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after a general election and designate it as the appointed date for the synchronisation of elections. It said that the tenure of the state Assemblies should end with the subsequent general Lok Sabha elections after the appointed date.

The panel also recommended the constitution of an implementation group to oversee the execution of its report.

It said simultaneous elections would promote the development process and social cohesion, deepen the foundations of the democratic rubric and help realise aspirations of “India, that is Bharat”.

The high-level committee was set up by the Centre on September 2, 2023, to look into the long-standing proposal of implementing simultaneous elections in India.

Apart from Kovind, the panel included Union Home Minister Amit Shah, former leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Finance Commission Chairperson NK Singh, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash Kashyap and senior advocate Harish Salve.

Law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal is a special invitee to the panel.

Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury declined to be a part of the committee hours after he was inducted into the panel, calling it a “total eyewash”.

In February, the Bharatiya Janata Party submitted a memorandum to the high-level committee, suggesting that the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections should be held simultaneously first and that the local body polls can be synchronised later.

A delegation led by BJP chief JP Nadda met Kovind and pledged the party’s support for simultaneous polls, the Union law ministry said in a statement.

Opposition parties have criticised the Central government, saying that it has acted unilaterally in taking steps to implement the “one nation, one election” plan.

The Congress had said that the proposal goes against the basic structure of the Constitution. The proposal is based on the idea that the entire country is “one but this contradicts Article 1, which envisages India as a “Union of States”.

In 2019, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a second term, he called an all-party meeting to deliberate on the idea. Back then too, several Opposition parties had boycotted the meeting saying that the idea was against the principles of federalism.