New Delhi: Amidst discord and boycott, Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to set up a panel to study the feasibility of and give suggestions on the “One Nation, One Election” idea at a meeting at the Parliament Library here on Wednesday.
As the AIADMK did not send its chief, its representative K.C. Shanmagam, state finance minister, was not allowed to participate.
The government had issued a clear directive that only party chiefs or acting presidents would be allowed at the meeting. However, the other Opposition parties which attended it included the Left parties, the NCP, National Conference and the PDP. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who spoke immediately after the Prime Minister’s opening remarks, backed the idea of holding simultaneous polls but said the idea was unimplementable. His views were similar to those of Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee.
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, while backing the “One Nation, One Election” idea, questioned the BJP on “Why did you not do it in Jammu Kashmir?”
Besides the NDA allies, those supporting the concept of “One Nation, One Election” included BJD chief and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, YSR Congress leader and Andhra Pradesh CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and JD-U chief and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Mr Patnaik told reporters that he supported “One Nation, One Election”. Nitish Kumar too supported the idea and said it would save the nation a lot of money. The Shiv Sena, an NDA ally, did not attend as it was party’s foundation day and its chief Uddhav Thackeray was in Mumbai. Making it clear it “is not an agenda of a single party but an issue of national importance, and the views of all parties will be given due importance,” the Prime Minister said that a committee would be set up to look into this issue and to come up with suggestions “in a time-bound manner”.
Briefing the media after the meeting that lasted for nearly four hours, defence minister Rajnath Singh said the parties which attended the meeting supported the concept of “One Nation, One Election”.
He claimed even as the Left parties had “differences of opinion” on how the joint elections’ exercise would be held, they were “not opposed to the idea”....