Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 19
With consensus on implementing the ‘one nation, one election’ idea missing at a meeting of party leaders convened by the government today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said a committee will be set up to study the matter and make suggestions.
The Opposition Congress, Trinamool Congress, TDP, BSP and SP skipped the meeting, while the Aam Aadmi Party and TRS sent in their representatives.
Chiefs of NCP (Sharad Pawar), NC (Farooq Abdullah), PDP (Mehbooba Mufti), YSRCP (Jagan Reddy), BJD (Naveen Patnaik), CPM (Sitaram Yechury) and CPI (Sudhakar Reddy) attended the meeting chaired by the PM and conducted by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The government had invited 40 party leaders of whom 21 turned up and three sent written opinions, among them Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and BSP president Mayawati.
The PM in his inaugural comments backed ‘one nation, one election’ as a proposal in national interest as it would save money and time. He, however, added the proposal was not a single-party agenda and required consensus.
PM Modi, who sat throughout the three hours, assured the attending party chiefs that he would form a committee to deliberate on the issue as most leaders sought wider debate.
Apart from NDA constituents, including the Akali Dal, YSRCP, TRS and BJD backed the idea. Most other leaders, including AAP national spokesman Raghav Chadha demanded a white paper for an informed view.
While Rajnath Singh said after the meeting that the Left was not opposed to the idea but only to its implementation, CPI’s Reddy told The Tribune both CPM and CPI were against the move and found it anti-federal.
“Most parties gave their support to one nation, one election. The CPM and CPI had a difference of opinion but they didn’t oppose the idea, just the implementation of it. The Prime Minister will form a committee to go into the issue and make suggestions in a time-bound manner. He will take a call on the constitution of the committee,” Rajnath said about the meeting, attended also by Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP working president JP Nadda.
The meeting discussed ways of improving parliament’s productivity, building a New India in the 75th year of Independence, events to mark the ongoing 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and development of aspirational districts listed by NITI Ayog. The government said most party chiefs were concerned about frequent disruptions of Parliament and noted half of the members of 17th Lok Sabha were first-time MPs who deserved to get a voice.
On building a New India, Opposition Left said the government should strive for scientific thought and implement Mahatma Gandhi’s values of tolerance and secularism to remember him.
‘One nation, one election’ was backed by Law Commission last year to save money and time but the commission had said Constitution would have to be amended for the purpose as it did not provide for fixed tenures of LS/Assemblies.
WHO CAME, WHO DID NOT
- AMONG PARTICIPANTS: YSRCP’s Jagan Reddy, BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, NC’s Farooq Abdullah, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s Sudhakar Reddy, NCP’s Sharad Pawar, JDU’s Nitish Kumar, Akali Dal’s Sukhbir Badal, AIMIM’s Asadudin Owaisi
- SKIPPED: Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, DMK’s MK Stalin, TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, BSP’s Mayawati, SP’s Akhilesh Yadav
- REPRESENTED: Aam Aadmi Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi
Most parties back our idea: Rajnath
Most parties supported holding simultaneous polls. Though parties such as CPI and CPM had difference of opinion on how the exercise will be held, they were not opposed (to the idea). —Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister
Frequent polls affect development: BJD
Frequent elections affect the pace of development and also rock the spirit of cooperative federalism. The BJD will fully support the idea of ‘one nation, one election’. —Naveen Patnaik, Odisha Chief Minister
Fundamentally anti-federal: CPM
Apart from technical issues involved in the holding of the simultaneous elections, our opposition is based on the fact that it is fundamentally anti-federal and strikes at root of parliamentary system. —Sitaram Yechury, CPM Gen Secy
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