One nation, one election: Congress, many opposition parties skip meet

New Delhi: The all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw the absence of several opposition parties, including the Congress. The meeting was held in the library building of Parliament and presidents of all the political parties that have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha were invited by Modi to discuss the issue.

However, media reports said Opposition parties felt there needs to be greater discussions among various stakeholders before taking the issue further.

Other parties that skipped the meeting are Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the DMK, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Trinamool Congress. It is to be noted that Shiv Sena too did not attend the meeting. The reason was said to be that it was the party’s foundation day.

BSP chief Mayawati tweeted saying she would have attended the meeting had it been on electronic voting machines (EVMs). Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did not attend the meeting.

On Tuesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declined the invitation. She had reportedly asked the Centre to prepare a white paper on the issue for consultations.

According to media reports Congress president Rahul Gandhi wrote to the government for not being able to attend. It is also said that the opposition party took the decision after consultating with other parties over the issue. Congress had also planned to convene a meeting of all opposition leaders yesterday morning, but it was cancelled in view of Rahul’s birthday.

Among those who attended the all party meeting, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi opposed the one party, one election idea. They reasoned that it is against the spirit of federalism. It was a “backdoor way of replacing our parliamentary democracy,” said Yechury.

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Gaurav Gogoi hit out at the BJP-led NDA government. He claimed that they were attempting to diverting attention of people from real issues, such as unemployment, Muzaffarpur, farmers suicides. When the ruling party cannot hold simultaneous assembly polls to two States or for two Rajya Sabha seats, it had no right to talk about holding all elections simultaneously, slammed Gaurav.

Asked why the Congress did not attend the all-party meeting, Gogoi said, “We have explained that the Congress president expressed regret regarding ‘one nation, one election’ meeting…We have said, our legal experts, our constitutional experts have also said that this is perversion of the Constitution; the framer of our Constitution envisioned flexibility and envisioned federalism. So this brings in a sense of rigidity, this brings us constitutional change.

Gogoi claimed that when it suits the BJP, it opts for multi-phase elections, when it feels something new should be done, then it talks about ‘one nation, one election’.

NT Bureau