ONE NATION, ONE POLL … Congress, some opposition parties boycott meet called by PM on simultaneous polls


NEW DELHI: An all-party leaders’ meet convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening to discuss the theme of simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha and state assemblies saw partial attendance, but the government announced later that the PM would constitute a multi-party panel to take the matter forward. The PM would chair the panel.

The Congress as also the BSP of Mayawati, the Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee, the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav and DMK of MK Stalin boycotted the meet. Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP too stayed away, but sent in a representative. So did Telugu Desam and Telangana Rasthra Samithi, but their leaders Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrashekar Rao stayed away. Chandrashekar Rao’s son NT Rama Rao, deputy CM, attended the meet. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and AP chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy too attended. 

The decision to form a panel of party leaders to take the matter forward was revealed to the media after the discussions by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The leaders of the two communist parties, the CPIM and the CPI attended the meet, but were not impressed. CPIM leader Sitaram Yechury came out of the meeting to say the proposal was anti-federal and anti-federal and his party would oppose it. 

The recommendation for holding simultaneous polls had come in the past from institutions as notable as the Law Commission of India and the Election Commission of India. India had been having simultaneous polls for two decades since Independence. The bane of floor-crossings by elected representatives led to downfall of governments midway thereafter, resulting in the present scenario of different assemblies having polls at different times, and not in synchronization with the Lok Sabha polls. This kind of a situation started from 1967. 

As per the present plan under consideration, proposed from the government side for discussion, one option is to have assembly polls in about 12 states held along with Lok Sabha polls every five years, and the other states grouped separately to have elections midway through the term of a Lok Sabha, like having the next collective of assembly polls in 2021, followed by polls in 2024 alongside Lok Sabha polls. More discussions will lead to fine-tuning of a new system as envisaged by PM Modi.

It is pointed out that putting the nation on frequent election modes, here and there, involves huge avoidable expenses, energy and inability on the part of political leaders to have focussed attention on governance. The PM is trying to reform the election system for the better. IHN-NN


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