NEW DELHI: A meeting of Opposition leaders chaired by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday evening to formulate a joint strategy on the Modi government’s proposal to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections, ended inconclusively.
The meeting came on the eve of the one Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convened of leaders of all parties represented in Parliament, to discuss the ‘one nation, one election’ concept.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already announced her no-show and asked the Centre to prepare a white paper on simultaneous polls instead, advising it not to steamroll the concept in a hurry. Mamata’s Trinamool Congress is the fourth largest party in the Lok Sabha with 22 members, so her position carries weight.
Sources said Tuesday’s meeting was inconclusive as many opposition parties couldn’t attend, though DMK leaders Kanimozhi and T R Baalu, CPI’s D Raja and National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah were present. A decision on the joint strategy — including whether or not to attend the meeting called by Modi — could be taken by Wednesday morning, sources indicated.
They also said since the Congress is the biggest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, it had to take the initiative to provide a strong counter on the floor of the House.
Tuesday’s meeting also discussed was the election of a new Lok Sabha Speaker and decided not to oppose the NDA’s choice — Rajasthan lawmaker Om Birla, who is from the BJP.
Earlier in the day, the Congress held its parliamentary party’s strategy meeting, which was attended by Sonia, party president Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh. In August last, the Law Commission had recommended holding simultaneous elections.
Adhir Ranjan named Cong leader in LS
Five-time MP from Bengal Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was appointed the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha and Kerala’s K Suresh named the chief whip. The party wrote to the Lok Sabha secretariat communicating the appointment.
Apart from simultaneous polls, Wednesday’s meeting convened by Modi will discuss the celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year.