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Amid Opposition boycott, Centre announces panel for simultaneous polls

NEW DELHI, JUN 19:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to set up a committee over simultaneous elections, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at the end of all-party meeting that Congress and several opposition parties boycotted.

Singh, who was speaking to the press at the end of the meeting, said that the committee will study the feasibility of the 'One Nation, One Election' proposal and make recommendations.

Most parties gave their support. CPI(M) and CPI had a difference of opinion but they didn't oppose the idea. Only the implementation, Singh claimed.

Asked about the composition of the proposed committee, Singh said the prime minister will take a call.

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.

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

The Left parties, represented by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI's D Raja, had said they would attend the meeting to voice their opposition of the proposal.

"We will attend and oppose the 'one nation, one election' issue," a senior Left leader said.

Holding simultaneous polls to Parliament and state Assemblies is fundamentally anti-federal and anti-democratic and thus against the Constitution, Yechury said in a note.

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 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. (Agencies)

 

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