‘One nation, one election’ a diversionary tactic, says Congress as PM proposes to set up panel 

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi slammed the BJP over simultaneous polls, saying that it was a “diversionary tactics” to divert people’s attention from real issues and was inconsistent with issues

Congress leader and MP Gaurav Gogoi (PTI)
Congress leader and MP Gaurav Gogoi (PTI)

IANS

Congress leader and MP Gaurav Gogoi slammed the BJP over simultaneous polls, saying that it was a "diversionary tactics" to divert people's attention from real issues and accused the ruling party of remaining inconsistent on the issue.

The Congress also said that party President Rahul Gandhi has written to the government over the party's inability to participate in the meeting of presidents of all parties in Parliament.

Congress leader and MP Gaurav Gogoi told reporters at a press conference here that "when we talk of 'one nation, one election,' then we also want improvements in the election process."

He said the Congress has raised questions over the election process as voting for two Rajya Sabha seats is being done on different dates.

He was referring to separate dates for elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat. The two seats were vacated in the state after BJP President Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected as MPs.

The Congress has approached the Supreme Court over the issue.

"We have raised issue of electronic voting machines and ballot papers. We have raised issues of how money and state machinery were misused during the elections," Gogoi said.

"But the Prime Minister ignores them," he said.

"It is a way to distract people from real issues," Gogoi said, adding that 'one nation, one election' is a constitutional process and if the government wants, then they can hold debate in Parliament over the issue.

Hitting out at the central government, the Congress leader said, "It is the same government which did not hold assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat together. It is the same government which opted for seven-phase Lok Sabha elections to suit their needs."

Slamming the BJP, he said, when it suits them, they opt for multi-phase elections, when they feel something new should be done, then they talk about 'one nation, one election'.

"They have not shown consistency in their functioning," he said, adding, "they delay the model code of conduct to make some announcements."

"Are they really serious about 'one nation, one election'"? he questioned.

Beside Congress, many other opposition parties are not attending the meeting called by the Prime Minister over simultaneous polls

PM to set up panel to look into the idea

A committee for giving "time-bound" suggestions on the issue of 'one nation, one election' will be set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced on Wednesday after a meeting of chiefs of political parties.

Modi had 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.

Addressing media persons after the meeting, Singh, who moderated the gathering, said most parties supported the 'one nation, one election' idea.

However, Left parties such as the CPI and the CPI-M had "difference of opinion" on how the exercise of joint elections will be held and that they were "not opposed (to the idea)", he said.

Among the notable absentees were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav, DMK's 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 represented by its working president K T Rama Rao.

PTI cited sources saying the panel is likely to be political in nature that will include leaders from various political parties.

Modi had invited the heads of all political parties which have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha for the meeting to discuss several issues, including the "one nation, one election" idea, celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year.

Those who attended the meeting included NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy, Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar, SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik and National People's Party leader Conard Sangma.

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owais also attended.

Besides Modi and Singh, the government was represented by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, his cabinet colleagues Nitin Gadkari and Pralhad Joshi. BJP's new working president J.P. Nadda was also present.

Mayawati tweeted on Tuesday that she would have attended the all-party meeting if it was on electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Yechury described the concept of simultaneous polls as "anti-democracy and anti-federalism" and said "the BJP is trying to bring in president form of government structure through back door."

On 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary and increasing Parliament’s productivity

Rajnath Singh further said on the issue of increasing the productivity of Parliament all parties were in agreement on this. Those leaders who were present in the meeting were of the opinion that there should be cordial atmosphere for communication and discussion in the House.

On celebrations of 150 years of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Yechury said the best tribute to the Father of Nation could be by taking stringent action against those who are glorifying his assassin and enacting a strong law against mob lynching.

BJD's Naveen Patnaik, who supported the government's idea of simultaneous polls, demanded the inclusion of the words peace and non-violence in the preamble of the Constitution.

Last August, the Law Commission had 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 government think-tank, NITI Aayog, last year suggested synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and Assembly polls from 2024 to ensure minimum campaign-mode disruption to governance.

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Published: 19 Jun 2019, 8:31 PM