Prime Minister Narendra Modi will set up a committee to take a close look at holding simultaneous elections in the country, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced after a marathon all party meeting discussed the ‘one nation, one election’ plan.
Rajnath Singh said most political parties had supported the idea at the meeting convened by PM Modi but underlined that some parties did red-flag the plan over implementation issues. “There was some difference of opinion from CPI, CPM on the limited point of implementation, but they didn’t directly oppose the idea,” Rajnath Singh said.
The prime minister told the all party meeting that he would set up a committee to consider all aspects of this proposal.
“PM Modi will form this committee in due course,” Rajnath Singh said, declining to elaborate any more details about the proposed committee. He clarified that PM Modi would decide if all political parties would be represented in this panel.
The meeting, which had stayed in the headlines over the absence of prominent opposition leaders such as Trinamool Congress’s Mamata Banerjee and the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, was attended by chiefs of 21 political parties. Rajnath Singh said the government had invited bosses of 40 political parties. Three parties had sent a representative to the meeting. AIADMK didn’t send anyone but conveyed its stand in a written message.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy had made it clear right before entering the meeting hall that they were all for simultaneous elections to save a significant amount of taxpayers’ money spent on holding separate assembly and general elections – the world’s largest and one of the one most expensive exercise.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, a consistent and sharp critic of PM Modi’s ‘one nation, one election’ plan, had declared early in the day that he would oppose the idea that he insisted was ‘fundamentally anti-federal and anti-democratic’. He stuck to the script. So did the CPI’s S Sudhakar Reddy. Arvind Kejriwal’s APP had earlier called simultaneous elections “an attempt to fix what isn’t broken” and to “undermine India’s plural democratic polity”.
BSP Mayavanti , SP’s Akhilesh Yadav and DMK’s MK Stalin had given the meeting a miss. Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal absented themselves from the meeting but nominated a party leader to represent them.