"Entire Idea Must Be Abandoned": Congress On One Nation, One Election

'One nation one election': "For the sake of maintaining a thriving and a robust democracy, it is imperative that the entire idea must be abandoned..." Congress chief Mallikarjung Kharge said

'Entire Idea Must Be Abandoned': Congress On One Nation, One Election

Congress opposes the 'one nation one election' idea

New Delhi:

The Congress today opposed what it called the "undemocratic" idea of holding simultaneous polls - referring to the BJP's push for the 'one nation one election' system - and criticised the idea as one that goes against federalism and the Constitution's basic structure.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge called for disbanding the committee that is studying whether the 'one nation one election' system can be applied in a nation of 140 crore people.

"The Indian National Congress is strongly opposed to the very idea of 'One Nation, One Election'. For the sake of maintaining a thriving and a robust democracy, it is imperative that the entire idea must be abandoned and the high-powered committee dissolved," Mr Kharge said in a letter to Niten Chandra, the secretary of the committee.

Former President Ram Nath Kovind heads the committee.

Mr Kharge in the letter asked the former President "not to allow his persona and the office of the former President of India to be abused by the Union government to subvert the Constitution and parliamentary democracy in this country."

The committee on October 18, 2023 had asked the public to send suggestions. Pointing at this, Mr Kharge alleged the committee seems to have "already made up its mind and seeking a consultation seems to be an eye wash".

"The government, parliament and ECI (Election Commission of India) should work together to ensure the people's mandate is respected rather than divert people's attention by talking about undemocratic ideas like simultaneous elections," Mr Kharge said.

He alleged the composition of the committee is "biased". The committee was formed without discussion with Opposition parties that are in power in many states, Mr Kharge said, adding these states will be affected by the decisions taken by the committee.

"When the committee is headed by no less than the former President of India, it is distressing when even common voters feel the consultations of the committee are likely to be a pretence since minds have already been made up," the Congress chief said.

Mr Kharge said he was "amused" to hear the argument that holding simultaneous elections will result in financial savings. He said the expenses on elections are less than 0.02 per cent of the total Union Budget for the preceding five years.

"We feel the people will be willing to consider this small amount as the cost of free and fair elections to uphold democracy," Mr Kharge said.

The government's website on 'one nation one election' said the national and state elections were mostly held simultaneously from 1951-52 to 1967, after which this cycle got broken and now, elections are held almost every year and within a year too at different times, which result in massive expenditure by the government and other stakeholders, diversion of security forces and other electoral officers engaged in such elections from their primary duties for significantly prolonged periods, and disruption in developmental work on account of prolonged application of model code of conduct, etc.

The 'one nation one election' committee's terms of reference includes checking whether the amendments to the Constitution needed for simultaneous elections would need ratification by the states.