New Delhi: On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that a committee would be formed to study the diverse aspects of conducting Lok Sabha elections as well as all the State Assembly elections once in every five years. This was as a result of the apprehensions expressed at an all-party meeting called for the purpose. The panel will need to provide suggestions in a certain timeframe.
In the ‘One Nation, One Election’ meeting called by the government, the heads of the 21 political parties were in attendance. However, 12 major opposition parties did not attend it. Congress President Rahul Gandhi mentioned some earlier commitments, while BSP Chief Mayawati cited she would have come if the EVMs’ agenda was discussed.
Also, the representatives of SP (Samajwadi Party), DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), AAP (Aam Aadmi Party), TMC (Trinamool Congress), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (JD – Secular), AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front), TDP (Telugu Desam Party), JMM (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha), and IUML (Indian Union Muslim League) were also not present in the meeting. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) had sent Tamil Nadu Law Minister CV Shanmughan, but he was informed that only party heads could attend it. Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray also could not attend the meet since he was busy with his party’s foundation day celebrations.
The heads who attended included BJD (Biju Janata Dal) Chief Naveen Patnaik who was in support of simultaneous polls. And YSRCP (Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party) Chief Jaganmohan Reddy asked for his concerns to be addressed before the idea gets implemented. The NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) raised questions on the feasibility of the idea and possibility of frequent central rule in states. The Communist Party of India (CPM and CPI) leaders expressed disagreement on the proposal. The opposition parties said that simultaneous elections might result in ‘encroachment’ on federal rights because dissolving assemblies before the tenure ends is ‘anti-democratic’ and President’s rule of enforcing syncing of polls is not fair.
A government source stated-
“Several parties were of the view that all aspects of the proposal need to be examined carefully. Shri Modi noted that this is not the agenda of one party, but an issue of national importance and views of all parties would be considered and given due importance.”
PM Modi declared that a panel would soon be formed for examining the issue and submitting a report.
Patnaik held the same opinion as that of PM Modi, saying that frequent elections would influence the development pace and shake the cooperative federalism’s spirit. He added-
“BJD will fully support the idea of one nation, one election. There has to be a ‘give and take’ attitude in the larger interest of the country.”
Moreover, Patnaik had dissolved the Odisha Assembly about a year before the schedule in 2004 for synchronization of the state elections with the Lok Sabha polls. So, the state has been holding simultaneous polls since then. Patnaik also proposed that the commitment to “Ahimsa (non-violence) be enshrined in the Constitution’s preamble.”
All the parties agreed to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and improve the productivity of Parliament, among the other issues on the agenda.
A few of the opposition heads insisted that when the development of the 115 backward districts is being discussed, the concerned state governments must be actively involved to achieve effective outcomes. PM Modi supported the view, saying that all the state governments must maintain coordination with the Centre to put the most backward districts on the best level.