Virtual consensus among APM attendees on ‘One Nation, One Poll’

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi chairing an All Party Meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi chairing an All Party Meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Good idea: Farooq; let diversity thrives: Mehbooba
JK Assembly’s term, no-confidence motion major issues

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, June 19: There was virtual consensus among the attendees of the All Party Meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi today on `One Nation, One Election’ after which the Government decided to set-up a high-level Expert Committee to examine various issues connected to the proposal. J&K Assembly is only in the country which has six years term and without reducing it to five years, one poll in the country will not be possible.
National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah described the idea as “good” while PDP president Mehbooba Mufti without supporting or outrightly opposing the proposal said diversity should be allowed to thrive.
Though the issue of six-years tenure of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly didn’t figure at the All Party Meeting despite the presence of Dr Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti in the meeting, the only two invitees from Jammu and Kashmir, sources said since term of Lok Sabha and all other State Assemblies is five years, the six years term of J&K Assembly has to be reduced to five years if `One Nation, One Election’ formula mooted by the Prime Minister is implemented.
Twenty-one out of 40 parties invited attended the All Party Meeting and there was virtual consensus among the attendees on `One Nation, One Election’ for the country.
The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Government was represented by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Parlhad Joshi. BJP working president Jagat Prakash Nadda also attended.
“A high-level Expert Committee will be set up to give time-bound suggestions on `One Nation, One Election’ issue,” sources said.
The issues, though not decided yet, will include dealing with collapse of the Government in middle of the term due to no-confidence motion or application of Article 356 of the Constitution of India to impose President’s rule in a State,” sources told the Excelsior.
They said the Experts will also have to debate six years term of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly as it will not be possible to implement the idea of `One Nation, One Election’ in the country without reducing term of the Assembly to five years.
Sources said Dr Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who attended the meeting, didn’t raise the issue of six years term of the Legislative Assembly at the All Party Meeting though they have always opposed the idea of reduction of the Assembly term.
An official statement issued by National Conference president and former Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah said, he called for thorough examination of `One Nation, One Poll’ proposal saying the idea was good provided it doesn’t undermine the federal structure of India.
“Consensus on this important issue is imperative and all political parties must examine it threadbare,” Dr Abdullah said at the All Party Meeting, the statement said.
However, a statement issued by Mehbooba Mufti after the meeting said on ‘One Nation, One Poll’ proposal, she stated that India is defined by its diversity in culture, linguistics, eating and living habits and, therefore, politically also this diversity should be allowed to thrive.
Mehbooba pitched for ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir after Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra. She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement `Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas and Sab Ka Vishwas’ should be implemented on ground and best place to start with this is Kashmir, which, she claimed feels “alienated, bruised and wounded”. Calling for political solution to Kashmir through dialogue, she said late Vajpayee had made an earnest endeavor and Modi too tried to pursue the same approach but unfortunately didn’t get positive response from Pakistan.
Mehbooba said Constitution and political system alone can satisfy aspirations of the people and that problems being faced by any alienated section of the society are addressed within the country. She added that it was high time for country to see why the people of J&K don’t look up to New Delhi for redressal of their grievances anymore.
Only Dr Abdullah and Mehbooba had been invited from Jammu and Kashmir to the All Party Meet. Sources pointed out that only those political parties were invited for the meeting which have a Member of Parliament. While NC has 3 Lok Sabha members including Dr Abdullah, PDP has two Rajya Sabha MPs.
PTI adds from New Delhi:
A committee for giving “time-bound” suggestions on the issue of ‘One Nation, One Election’ will be set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced today after a meeting of chiefs of political parties.
In a bid to build a consensus on holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, Modi convened the meeting of presidents of all political parties for which 40 were invited. 21 parties attended the meeting while three shared their views on the subject in writing.
Addressing media persons after the meeting, Singh, who moderated the gathering, said most parties supported the ‘One Nation, One Election’ idea.
However, Left parties such as the CPI and the CPI-M had “difference of opinion” on how the exercise of joint elections will be held and that they were “not opposed (to the idea)”, he said.
Among the notable absentees were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav, DMK’s M K Stalin, TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party(AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal.
TRS was represented by its working president K T Rama Rao.
“Most of the parties supported ‘One Nation One Election’. There was some difference of opinion from CPI(M) and CPI that how it will be done. And both Left parties didn’t directly oppose it rather expressed apprehensions that how it will be implemented,” he said adding, “Prime Minister will form a committee which will hold discussions with all stake holders in a time-bound manner.”
According to sources, this panel is likely to be political in nature that will include leaders from various political parties.
Singh said Modi made it clear at the meeting that the “simultaneous polls is not Government’s agenda and that it is the nation’s agenda.”
Quoting Modi, Singh said he told presidents of the political parties that if there is any difference of opinion it is welcome.
Modi had invited the heads of all political parties which have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha for the meeting to discuss several issues, including the “One Nation, One Election” idea, celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year.
Singh said on the issue of increasing the productivity of Parliament all parties were in agreement on this. Those leaders who were present in the meeting were of the opinion that there should be cordial atmosphere for communication and discussion in the House.
Leaders of various parties emphasized that the young generation should be aware about the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Singh said.
Those who attended the meeting included NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar, SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik and National People’s Party leader Conard Sangma.
Mayawati tweeted on Tuesday that she would have attended the All-Party Meeting if it was on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Yechury described the concept of simultaneous polls as “anti-democracy and anti-federalism” and said “the BJP is trying to bring in president form of Government structure through back door.”
On celebrations of 150 years of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Yechury said the best tribute to the Father of Nation could be by taking stringent action against those who are glorifying his assassin and enacting a strong law against mob lynching.
BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, who supported the Government’s idea of simultaneous polls, demanded the inclusion of the words peace and non-violence in the preamble of the Constitution.
Sources said that the Opposition parties want proper discussion before going ahead with simultaneous polls.
Last August, the Law Commission had recommended holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies to save public money.
The draft, submitted to the Law Ministry, however, cautioned that “holding simultaneous elections is not possible within the existing framework of the Constitution”.
The Centre has been toying with the idea for quite some time now.
“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,” an official release said last week after Modi addressed a NITI Aayog meeting.
The Government think-tank, NITI Aayog, last year suggested synchronized two-phase Lok Sabha and Assembly polls from 2024 to ensure minimum campaign-mode disruption to governance.