"2 Problems": Mamata Banerjee Rejects 'One Nation, One Election'

in a detailed letter to the high-level committee led by ex-President Ram Nath Kovind - that has called for suggestions for implementation of the 'one nation, one election' idea, Ms Banerjee said she had "basic conceptual difficulties with the principle".


Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday hit out at the controversial 'one nation, one election' idea, labelling it "a design to subvert the basic structure of the Constitution" and create a system to allow "autocracy (in) a democratic garb to enter the national public arena". "I am against autocracy and, hence, am against your design," Ms Banerjee asserted.

The Trinamool Congress boss - a fierce critic of the Narendra Modi government, which she has accused of subverting the country's federal structure - red-flagged that concern once again, declaring sarcastically, "You seem to be conveying some sort of a unilateral top-down 'decision' already taken by the central government - to impose a structure that is against the spirit of a truly democratic and federal (nation)".

In a detailed letter to Dr Niten Chandra, the Secretary of a high-level committee led by former President Ram Nath Kovind - that has called for suggestions for implementation of the idea, she said she had "basic conceptual difficulties with the principle", as also "difficulties with your methodological approach".

READ | "'One Nation, One Election' In National Interest, Not For Any Party": Ram Nath Kovind

The two conceptual issues she raised were "the constitutional and structural implication of the term 'one nation'" and, crucially, questions over the timing of parliamentary and Assembly elections, particularly when there is a significant gap in existing poll cycles.

"In 1952, the first general election was simultaneously conducted for the centre as well as states. There was such simultaneity for some years but (this) has since been ruptured."

"... different states have different elections calendars now and those are also susceptible to changes due to political developments. States which are not expecting elections should not be forced to hold (them) for the sake of introduction of coevality only," she stressed.

READ | Ram Nath Kovind Chairs First Meeting Of 'One Nation One Election' Panel

Ms Banerjee also pointed out potential ruptures in the 'one nation, one election' idea if either the Lok Sabha or a state Assembly "is subject to untimely dissolution", and warned, "Instability of a government at the centre should not destabilise state legislatures..."

"It is not clear how this basic issue of introduction of coevality is going to be addressed by your esteemed committee," Ms Banerjee wrote, and also raised several "minor" objections, including "preparation of common electoral rolls". She also criticised the committee for failing to include chief ministers..

"From the tenor of your correspondence and manner in which you accept half-baked assumptions as facts, we doubt if the committee is seriously interested in analysing the demerits of the case..." Ms Banerjee said sharply. "Under the circumstances, I cannot agree with the 'one nation, one election' concept, as framed by you. We disagree with your formulation and proposal," she concluded.

Till 1967, elections were held simultaneously; four such were held in this manner. The practice stopped in 1968/69 after some state assemblies were dissolved prematurely, as was the Lok Sabha in 1970.

Simultaneous elections were part of the BJP's manifesto for the 2014 elections.

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