Congress non-committal on 'One Nation, One Election'

In a minor embarrassment to BJP, its ally in Goa, Goa Forward Party also opposed the idea.

Published: 07th July 2018 07:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th July 2018 07:35 PM   |  A+A-

Indian National Congress flag. (Photo |PTI)


NEW DELHI: Making a modest departure from its earlier stand that the idea of 'One Nation, One Election' as pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "misplaced", the principal opposition Congress on Saturday remained non-committal about the concept.

The party spokesman RPN Singh at the regular media briefing here maintained that the grand old party will form its opinion on simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies only after enlisting the views of all opposition parties.

"The Congress will be in touch with all Opposition parties and we will exchange notes and then we will take a decision on the ongoing processes involved," Mr Singh told reporters at party headquarters here.

The remarks from the Congress leader come even as the Law Commission on Saturday begun consultations with major national and recognised state political parties to discuss the feasibility of the idea -which also has the backing of the Union Law Ministry.

The Congress party in its political resolution adopted after party plenary on March 17 in Delhi this year had said, "The BJP's move for simultaneous elections is misplaced".

The resolution adopted at the first plenary of the party after Rahul Gandhi took over as Congress president also had said, "The idea will have serious implications, which must be thoroughly enquired into and a national consensus built".

Several Congress leaders in the past have also opposed the idea stating that "it was not realistic" to hold simultaneous polls across the country in the present scenario.

According to reports, some Congress MPs at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Law and Justice in January this year have opposed the idea.

At the consultative meeting with the Law Commission here on Saturday, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and BJP-ally Goa Forward Party among others have opposed the idea of simultaneous polls.

The commission has already written to the seven recognised national and 59 state parties to participate in the deliberations.

Prime Minister Modi has also on several occasions had made a strong pitch to hold simultaneous polls which could save time and money and also allow political parties to pay more attention to the matters of development and governance.

One time ally of BJP, the TDP has also opposed the idea of simultaneous polls saying implementing such an idea will weaken regional forces.

The Trinamool Congress leader Kalyan Banerjee, who attended the meeting with Law Commission, reiterated his party's stand on the issue and said the idea of simultaneous elections is "not feasible".

"What happens if a coalition government in a state or in the centre collapses. Can the whole country go to an election yet again within a year or two," he said.

Answering questions that the implementation of simultaneous polls can save a lot of money from public exchequer and time, Mr Banerjee said, "in terms of priorities, the Constitution and democracy should get more weightage vis-a-vis the financial issues".

In a minor embarrassment to BJP, its ally in Goa also opposed the idea.

Goa Forward Party president Vijay Sardesai, who is also Agriculture Minister in BJP-led government in the state, said: "Even if we are a BJP ally in Goa, we are opposing it".

"The idea sounds good. There are a few nominal benefits as well but the proposal for simultaneous elections is in effect against the spirit of federalism, which is a fundamental feature of our Constitution," Mr Sardesai said.

The Law Commission's draft paper titled "Simultaneous Elections - Constitutional and Legal Perspectives" has recommended amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of People's Act, 1950 to facilitate and sustain the concept of simultaneous polls.


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