All-party meeting on ‘one nation, one election’ | Left parties not opposed to simultaneous polls, says Rajnath; Yechury terms it backdoor way of replacing parliamentary democracy

Updated - June 19, 2019 09:29 pm IST

Published - June 19, 2019 02:14 pm IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. File photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. File photo

In a bid to build a consensus on holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened the meeting of presidents of all political parties for which 40 were invited. 21 parties attended the meeting while three shared their views on the subject in writing.

Among the notable absentees were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav, DMK chief M.K. Stalin, TRS chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party(AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal. TRS was, however, represented by its working president K.T. Rama Rao.

A committee for giving “time-bound” suggestions on the issue of ‘one nation, one election’ will be set up by Mr. Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced after the meeting.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs an all-party meet in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs an all-party meet in New Delhi on Wednesday.

 

Here are the updates:

8:30 pm

 

Backdoor way of replacing our parliamentary democracy: Yechury

The “one nation, one election” proposal is fundamentally anti-federal and a “backdoor way of replacing our parliamentary democracy”, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said after a meeting of political party chiefs called by Mr. Modi.

Speaking on the programme and commitments to celebrate Gandhi’s birth anniversary, Mr. Yechury said action must be taken against those who are glorifying the assassins of the Father of the nation. He also demanded for a law against mob lynching.

“The ‘One Nation, One poll’ proposal is fundamentally anti-federal and anti democratic and thus, against the Constitution. It is a backdoor way of replacing our parliamentary democracy,” Mr. Yechury said after the meeting.

Earlier, in a note circulated among the representatives of the political parties in attendance , he listed out the reasons for the CPI(M)’s opposition to the “artificial attempt” by the government to introduce simultaneous polls.

7:30 pm

Modi to set up panel on ‘one nation, one election’ proposal, says Rajnath

Mr. Modi will set up a committee for giving “time-bound” suggestions on the issue of ‘one nation, one election’, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said.

Addressing the media after the all-party meeting on the issue, Mr. Singh said most parties supported the idea of holding simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

He said though parties such as the CPI and the CPI(M) had “difference of opinion” on how the exercise of joint elections will be held, they were “not opposed (to the idea)“.

Asked about the composition of the proposed committee, Mr. Singh said the Prime Minister will take a call.

7 pm

‘An idea whose time may not have come’

As the all-party meeting chaired by Mr. Modi is deliberating on ‘one nation, one poll’, here’s the take by another CEC S.Y. Quraishi.

Mr. Quraishi writes in The Hindu :

“Till the idea achieves political consensus, there are two alternative suggestions to deal with the problems that arise due to frequent elections.

“First, the problem of uncontrolled campaign expenditure can be remedied by introducing a cap on expenditure by political parties. State funding of political parties based on their poll performance also is a suggestion worth considering. Private and corporate fund collection may be banned.

“Second, as I have suggested elsewhere, the poll duration can be reduced from two-three months to about 33 to 35 days if more Central armed police forces can be provided. The problems associated with a multi-phased election have been getting compounded, with more issues being added to the list with every election. Violence, social media-related transgressions and issues related to the enforcement of the MCC which are unavoidable in a staggered election will vanish if the election is conducted in a single day. All that needs to be done is to raise more battalions. This will also help in job creation.

“...[I]t is undeniable that simultaneous elections would be a far-reaching electoral reform. If it is to be implemented, there needs to be a solid political consensus, and an agenda of comprehensive electoral reforms should supplement it. The pros and cons need to be appropriately assessed and practical alternatives sincerely considered,” Mr. Quraishi concludes.

 

6:20 pm

 

‘One nation one election’ idea is very attractive: Former CEC Krishnamurthy

Former Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy has said the ‘one nation one election’ idea is very attractive but cannot be put into practice without a Constitutional amendment providing for fixed tenure for legislatures.

Mr. Krishnamurthy, who oversaw the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, said a lot of administrative arrangements, including increasing the strength of paramilitary forces for poll duties, might be required for holding simultaneous elections but they are possible.

The idea has several advantages, he said, but the biggest impediment in its implementation is Constitutional provision relating to no-confidence motion and related issues.

“The only way out is amendment by which you say... a vote of confidence will be effective only if some other person is elected as a leader; otherwise old government will continue. Unless you provide for fixed tenure of the House, it’s not possible,” he told PTI.

”... Transitional provisions may be required because some Houses would have had two-and-half years (of its tenure), some would have had four-and-half years, like that. Transitional provision providing for extending the (tenure of) Houses to a common date may be required,” Mr. Krishnamurthy said. — PTI

The Hindu explains: No-confidence motions

 

5:25 pm

 

Naveen Patnaik bats for ‘one nation, one poll’

BJD chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik says he supports a resolution on ‘one nation, one poll’. He says he also sought ahimsa to be added to the preamble of the Constitution. Mr. Patnaik says, at the all-party meeting he insisted on reservation to women in parliament and Assemblies and also sought Special Category Status for Odisha.

 

4:30 pm

 

Simultaneous polls not possible within existing framework of Constitution: Law Commission

In August 2018, the Law Commission 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 Mr. Modi addressed a NITI Aayog meeting in New Delhi.

The NITI Aayog in 2017 suggested synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and Assembly polls from 2024 to ensure minimum campaign-mode disruption to governance.

— PTI

4:20 pm

Simultaneous polls just a slogan in absence of a clear vision: AAP

In a letter to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, AAP's National Spokesperson Raghav Chadha has called simultaneous polls, at this stage, is just a slogan in the absence of a clear policy document or white paper.

Mr. Chadha wondered what will happen in case a government loses its majority. "Will the people of the State have to wait till the Lok Sabha elections to get another democratically elected State assembly? What if that waiting period is one or two years more; is the State expected to be beholden to the Union government for elections to its State?"

Mr. Chadha also warned the compelled simultaneous elections has an anti-democratic tint and premature dissolution of any government would lead to political turmoil.

4:00 pm

The all party meet has begin in the Parliament premises.

Chief Ministers Nitish Kumar, Jagan Mohan Reddy and Naveen Patnaik are attending.

NC's Farooq Abdullah, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, SAD's Sukhbir Singh Badal, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, NCP's Sharad Pawar and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan are also attending.

3:50 pm

'Yes to simultaneous polls, but first SCS '

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy is in the National Capital to take part in the all-party meet. Though the YSR Congress in-principle favours simultaneous elections, Mr. Reddy is keen in using the platform to reiterate his demand of special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

3:45 pm

Naveen Patnaik bats for simultaneous elections

As frequent elections can affect the development climate, it is better to have simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the country, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik suggested at the NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting on Saturday.

It was simultaneous elections indeed in Odisha. Elections for Lok Sabha and Assembly were held together in two phases in the State.

3:40 pm

AIADMK's stand

The AIADMK is likely to reiterate its stand of qualified support for simultaneous elections to Parliament and the State Assemblies.

The party is deputing Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam and its leader in the Rajya Sabha A. Navaneethakrishnan as its representatives in the meeting.

Though party leaders are tight-lipped about its stand, it is likely that the position will remain the same as the one conveyed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee four years ago.

At the time, Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs, both in the party and in the government. Besides, the State Assembly election was due in 2016. It was under these circumstances that the AIADMK, while favouring the idea of simultaneous polls, had argued that the move would mean that both the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies should first be given a fixed term. Together with the fixed term, fixed dates of election and counting should be announced, as in the case of the Presidential election in the United States.

 

3:25 pm

Simultaneous polls anti-federal, anti-democratic: CPI(M)

Holding simultaneous polls to Parliament and state Assemblies is fundamentally anti-federal and anti-democratic and thus, against the Constitution, the CPI(M) said on Wednesday, listing out the reasons for its opposition to the “artificial attempt” to introduce the “One Nation, One Election” process by the government.

In a note circulated among the heads of political parties at a meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the “One Nation, One Election” issue, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said holding simultaneous polls would “tamper” with the constitutional scheme of accountability of the government to the legislature.

“Apart from the technical issues involved in the holding of the simultaneous elections to the Parliament and state Assemblies, our opposition to this is based on the fact that it is fundamentally anti-federal, anti-democratic and strikes at the root of the parliamentary democratic system, as ordained in the Constitution,” the release said.

“At the outset, it needs to be noted that the elections were indeed simultaneous after we adopted our Constitution.  However, elections to the state Assemblies got detached from the general elections due to the arbitrary misuse of Article 356 by the Central government.  This process began with the dismissal of the Communist Ministry in Kerala in 1959.

“Holding the Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections together would require  tampering with the Constitutional scheme of accountability of the government to the legislature.   Article 75 (3) states that the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers is to the House of the People.  Similarly, Article 164 (1) concerning the Council of Ministers states that it is collectively responsible to the legislative assembly of the state.”

Read the CPI(M) press release here .

3:00 pm

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar too could attend the meet, sources told The Hindu .

Telugu Desam Party leader N. Chandrababu Naidu is out of India, but had sent his views in writing.

 

2:15 pm

Congress to skip all-party meet on simultaneous polls

The Congress will skip the all-party meeting on the ‘one nation, one election’ issue as it is opposed to the idea of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections, sources told PTI.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the party’s top leaders in the Parliament after consultations with various other parties.

1:45 pm

Who is attending, who is not?

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his West Bengal and Telangana counterparts Mamata Banerjee and K. Chandrashekar Rao are among those who won't be attending the all-party meet.

BSP chief Mayawati, NCP president Sharad Pawar, DMK chief M.K. Stalin and TDP president Chandrababu Naidu also won't take part.

According to the sources, the Aam Aadmi Party would be represented by party member Raghav Chadha and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi will be represented at the meeting by its working president K T Rama Rao, the son K Chandrashekar Rao.

“All the Left parties are likely to attend the meeting. We will attend and oppose the ‘one nation, one election’ issue,” a senior Left leader told PTI .

12:30 pm

Simultaneous polls a ploy to divert attention from main issues: Mayawati

BSP chief Mayawati has said she would have attended the all-party meeting called by the prime minister if it was on EVMs, and described the idea of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls as a ploy to divert attention from issues like poverty.

The BSP chief alleged that the people’s faith in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) had dwindled to worrisome level.

“The stubbornness of conducting elections through electronic voting machines instead of ballot paper is the real threat to the democracy and Constitution of the country.

“In these circumstances, if the meeting was convened to deliberate upon the deadly issue, then I would have definitely attended it,” Mayawati tweeted.

“Elections in any democracy can never be a problem, nor the elections should be weighed from the point of view of expenditure and extravagance,” she said. “The ‘one nation, one election’ is in fact an attempt to divert the attention from burning national issues such as poverty, inflation, unemployment and increase in violence, and is simply an illusion.”

12:05 pm

What is simultaneous election?

Currently, elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha are held separately -- that is whenever the incumbent government’s five-year term ends or whenever it is dissolved due to various reasons.

But the idea of “One Nation, One Election” envisages a system where elections to all states and the Lok Sabha will have to be held simultaneously. This will involve the restructuring of the Indian election cycle in a manner that elections to the states and the centre synchronise. This would mean that the voters will cast their vote for electing members of the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies on a single day, at the same time (or in a phased manner as the case may be).

(With inputs from Agencies)

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