PM Modi decides to form panel for simultaneous polls in country

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New Delhi | Published: June 20, 2019 1:11 AM

The government had invited presidents/party chiefs of 40 parties. Of these, 21 parties attended the meeting while three — TDP, AAP and AIADMK — sent their comments through letters.

PM Narendra Modi with the heads of various political parties in New Delhi on Wednesday (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to form a committee on ‘One Nation One Election’ which will work on the idea in a time-bound manner and submit a report to the Prime Minister, defence minister Rajnath Singh told reporters after an all-party meeting held Wednesday to discuss this and other matters.

“All the parties present supported the idea. The CPM and CPI opposed it only on the question of how it can be done. No one has opposed the idea itself,” Singh said.

“We take opposition to this idea also very seriously and value such comments. The PM has decided to form a committee and that committee will take into consideration all these things.”

Singh said Modi, in his opening remarks at the meeting, described the agenda items as ‘not the government’s agenda’ but ‘everyone’s agenda’.

The other items on the agenda were on improving productivity of Parliament, celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, building a New India in the 75th year of Independence, and development of aspirational districts.

The government had invited presidents/party chiefs of 40 parties. Of these, 21 parties attended the meeting while three — TDP, AAP and AIADMK — sent their comments through letters. NDA ally Shiv Sena did not attend because it was busy with its Foundation Day on Wednesday. Major Opposition parties like the Congress, TMC and DMK were among those that gave the meeting a miss — the TMC has demanded that the government bring out a ‘white paper’ on ‘One Nation One Election’ so that parties can get it evaluated from experts. Calling it ‘Presidential rule through the backdoor’, the CPM opposed the government’s ‘One Nation One Election’ idea in the present form.

“Any suppression of the will of the people by either shortening or prolonging the terms of Parliament or assembly is anti-democratic and anti-federalism,” CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters after the meeting. Yechury said the Left parties have also called for a strict special law against mob lynching. “Elections to state assemblies got detached from general elections due to the arbitrary misuse of Article 356 by the Central government. This process began with the dismissal of the Communist ministry in Kerala in 1959. How can there be simultaneous elections when there is Article 356?” he said.

AAP leader Raghav Chadha, in a letter, called the “concept of compelled simultaneous elections… anathema to the democratic spirit of the Constitution” and “inconsistent with basic tenets of parliamentary democracy”.

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