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Centre to form committee on 'one nation, one election', says PM Modi at party chiefs meet

June 19 (AZINS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met leaders of various political parties having representation in Parliament to explore possibilities of holding Lok Sabha and assembly elections together amid no show by various opposition parties.

After the conclusion on the meeting, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters that the Prime Minister has said a committee will be constituted to give its suggestions on the subject (One Nation, One Election) in a time-bound manner.

"We had invited 40 political parties, out of which Presidents of 21 parties participated and 3 other parties sent their opinion on the subjects in writing," Singh said after the meeting

"Most parties gave their support to One Nation, One Election, CPI(M) & CPI had a difference of opinion but they didn't oppose the idea, just the implementation of it," he added. 

Earlier, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the concept of 'One Nation, One Election' is "fundamentally anti-federal and anti-democratic and strikes at the root of a parliamentary democratic system." 

The CPI-M opposed the move stating that "simultaneous elections will enhance the role of the Governor and the Central intervention in the system."

Modi had invited the heads of all political parties which have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha for the meeting to discuss several issues, including the "one nation, one election" idea, celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D Raja, Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar, SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik and National People's Party leader Conard Sangma were among those who attended the meeting at the Parliament House library building.

Patnaik extended full support to the idea of 'one nation, one election', saying frequent polls affect the pace of development and also "rock the spirit of cooperative federalism".

"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'," Patnaik said, adding there has to be a "give and take" attitude in the larger interest of the country.

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah also attended the meet.

Among the notable absentees were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav, DMK's M K Stalin, TDP chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal. Mayawati tweeted on Tuesday morning saying she would have attended the all-party meeting if it was on electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Sources said that the Opposition parties are wary of the meeting convened by the prime minister as they feel this might be a "trap" set by the BJP and needs proper discussion before going ahead.

Last August, the Law Commission had recommended holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies to save public money.

The draft, submitted to the Law Ministry, however, cautioned that "holding simultaneous elections is not possible within the existing framework of the Constitution".

The BJP-led Centre has been toying with the idea for quite some time now.

"The Prime Minister called for widespread debate and consultations on simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas, keeping in view various aspects such as the resulting financial savings and consequent better utilisation of resources," an official release said last week after Modi addressed a NITI Aayog meeting here.

The government think-tank, NITI Aayog, had last year suggested synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and Assembly polls from 2024 to ensure minimum campaign-mode disruption to governance. 

(With PTI inputs)

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