The meet is to discuss PM Modi's "One Nation One Election" initiative.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold an all-party meeting today
- Leaders of five key parties will give the meeting a miss
- "One Nation One Election" is one of the key issues to be discussed
The government will form a committee to study the feasibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "One Nation, One Election", Union Minister Rajnath Singh said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's all-party meeting on Wednesday. Most parties, he said, had supported the idea. Five key parties, including the Congress, however skipped the meet. Mamata Banerjee expressed reservations about the modality of such a project and Mayawati mocked the government. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and DMK chief MK Stalin also stayed away. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandresekhar Rao sent representatives.
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"We decided... PM said a committee will be formed for 'One Nation One Poll' which will consider all sides of this issue and provide solutions for this," Union Minister Rajnath Singh said after the meeting. Calling it a national agenda on which all parties will be involved, Mr Singh said most parties supported the idea, but the Left parties dissented and had questions about implementation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi later tweeted: "Had a great meeting with Presidents of various political parties. Multiple issues of national importance were discussed. I thank the various leaders for their informed suggestions."
The Prime Minister's "One Nation, One Election" initiative, the BJP contends, will save both time and money. But the opposition has refused to back the idea, saying it is against federal principles and questioning the feasibility of such a move.
The implementation of simultaneous election idea requires an amendment to the constitution, which cannot be done without two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament. This is why the BJP needs to get other parties on board.
After the meeting, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the proposal was "anti-democracy" and "anti-federalism". "They are trying to bring the Presidential form of government through the backdoor and replacing parliamentary democracy," he added.
Mayawati said had the meeting been about Electronic Voting Machines, she would have attended. "The stubbornness of conducting elections through electronic voting machines instead of ballot paper is the real threat to democracy and the Constitution of the country," she claimed.
Mamata Banerjee wrote to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi yesterday, contending that a single meeting is not enough to respond on the "One Nation One Election" issue and asked the government for a White Paper so the parties can consult experts and give feedback.
The Bengal Chief Minister has also turned down the Niti Aayog's proposal of developing "aspirational districts", saying her Trinamool Congress is opposed to such a project as "it would not conform to the overall objectives of achieving balanced and uniform development of all districts in the state".
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu have delegated representatives. Even though he expressed an opinion earlier that the meeting would not help his state, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Mr Rao sent his son and party leader KT Rama Rao. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Jaganmohan Reddy attended the meeting,
Besides simultaneous election, the meeting also discussed NITI Aayog's proposal of developing "aspirational districts", that involves fast-tracking a rise in socio-economic condition of 117 districts across 28 states. Plans for 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year and 75 years of India's Independence in 2022 were also discussed.