Simultaneous elections are in national interest, says Kovind; Congress calls it a “party agenda”

The party in power at the Centre, whether BJP or Congress, will benefit if the concept is implemented, says former President; all States, civil society, judiciary must be consulted to make it national agenda, says Congress

Updated - November 21, 2023 07:06 pm IST

Published - November 21, 2023 05:02 pm IST - Rae Bareli

Former President Ram Nath Kovind chairs the second meeting of the ‘One Nation One Election Committee’, in New Delhi, on October 25, 2023.

Former President Ram Nath Kovind chairs the second meeting of the ‘One Nation One Election Committee’, in New Delhi, on October 25, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Former President Ram Nath Kovind, who heads the high level committee examining the idea of holding simultaneous elections — which the Union government has termed ‘One Nation, One Election’ — asserted that polls being held concurrently at the Union and State level is in national interest, but on November 21, the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called it a “party agenda”.

“I am requesting all the political parties to cooperate as this is in the national interest. No political party has got anything to do with it,” Mr. Kovind, who is on a private visit to Rae Bareli, told reporters on Monday night. “Holding simultaneous elections will be beneficial for the public as the revenue saved will be used for development work,” the former president added.

‘Reviving tradition’

He noted that several panels — including a parliamentary committee, Niti Aayog, and the Election Commission of India — have said that the tradition of ‘one nation, one election’ needs to be revived in the country.

“The government has constituted a committee for the purpose and made me its chairman. We are working with the people and will give suggestions to the government as to how we can implement this tradition again... At some point in time, all of them supported it. We request all the political parties to cooperate as this is in the national interest,” he said.

“If implemented, the party which is in power at the Centre will benefit, be it the BJP or the Congress or any other party. There is no discrimination,” Mr. Kovind observed, adding that the common people will be the biggest beneficiaries.

‘Party agenda’

Mr. Chowdhury, who refused to be part of the high powered panel despite being named as a member, countered the former President. “This is not a national agenda but a party agenda,” said the Congress leader, adding, “For it to be a national agenda, the views of each State, civil society, judiciary needs to be taken.”

“What happens if a government falls because of a no-confidence motion? Also, will this stop Operation Kamal where elected Opposition governments are toppled by the BJP,” asked Mr. Chowdhury.

The high level committee chaired by Mr. Kovind was constituted by the government on September 1, with Home Minister Amit Shah, former Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal as its members.

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