New Delhi: At the fourth meeting of centre's policy think tank NITI Aayog, Prime Minister Narendra Modi again flagged the issue of simultaneous elections at the central and the state level, urging a widespread debate on the issue.
- PM asked all parties to rise above politics, consider simultaneous polls
- Various leaders argue that simultaneous polls will cut the cost down
- The opposition parties objected and questioned feasibility of such polls
Simultaneous elections have been on the centre's wishlist for some time, with various leaders arguing that it will cut down on the cost of elections in terms of both time and money. Most opposition parties have however objected, questioning the feasibility of this. They have also said simultaneous elections will be against federal principles.
PM Modi has repeatedly asked all parties to rise above politics and consider it and even raised the issue in parliament. Last year, the NITI Aayog suggested synchronised, two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly polls from 2024 to ensure minimum disruption to the government's development works, but the idea gained little support.
PM Modi pitched the issue again at Sunday's meeting. A communique said, "The Prime Minister called for widespread debate and consultations on simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas, keeping in view various aspects such as the resulting financial savings and consequent better utilisation of resources".
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said the Prime Minister noted that the country remains in "perpetual election mode" and suggested there could be one uniform voter list for all elections.
After the meeting, NITI Aayog chief Amitabh Kant said the commission was charged with making a 15-year vision document, a 7-year action document, and a 3-year action plan. "We have worked hard on the development agenda and it is ready... no one has worked with the speed at which we have," Mr Kant said.
23 Chief Ministers and the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands attended the meeting in Delhi, held on Sunday under the shadow of the protest by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party.
Four of the attending Chief Ministers spoke to PM Modi on the sidelines of the meet. They appealed to him to intervene in the deadlock between the Chief Minister and the Lieutenant Governor, which, starting with what Mr Kejriwal called a strike of IAS officers, has snowballed into a full-scale demand for statehood.