To drum up support for the idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday presided a meeting where he invited the presidents of all political parties having representatives in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to New Delhi. The leaders present at the meeting included JDU’s Nitish Kumar, NC’s Farooq Abdullah, SAD’s Sukhbir Singh Badal, BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, YSRCP’s Jagan Mohan Reddy.
At the meeting, the Prime Minister is also likely to discuss issues of ‘aspirational districts’, the celebration of 75 years of India’s Independence in 2022 and marking 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year, among other things. This will be followed by by a dinner-meeting with all MPs on June 20.
Including Congress, those not attending the all-party meeting include NDA ally Shiv Sena as well as the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the DMK, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Trinamool Congress, PTI stated.
Among supporters of the move, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik said he backs the idea of one nation, one election, ANI reported.
On the other hand, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI’s D Raja, attended the meeting but oppose the idea. “We will attend and oppose the ‘one nation, one election’ issue,” PTI quoted a senior Left leader as saying. Holding simultaneous polls to Parliament and state Assemblies is fundamentally anti-federal and anti-democratic and thus against the Constitution, Yechury said in a note.
Meanwhile, BSP supremo Mayawati responded stating she would have attended the meeting if the topic of discussion was on electronic voting machines (EVMs).
List of leaders not attending Modi’s all-party meeting:
Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress: In a letter to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote that it was difficult to take a call on such a crucial matter on such short notice. The Centre, she wrote, should issue a white paper on the issue. “If you will do so, we will be able to give concrete suggestions on this important subject,” she wrote, adding that she will give the meeting a skip.
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The TMC supremo’s decision to stay away from Wednesday’s meeting in Delhi comes against the backdrop of a heightened tussle between the ruling party and the BJP in West Bengal after the saffron party made inroads into the eastern state. She had earlier boycotted a Niti Aayog meeting as well as Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.
M K Stalin, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam: DMK chief Stalin will also not attend the meeting.
N Chandrababu Naidu, Telugu Desam Party: Former NDA alliance partner TDP will also stay away from the meeting. Jayadev Galla, who represents Guntur, is likely to attend the meeting, news agency ANI reported.
K Chandrasekhar Rao, Telangana Rashtra Samithi: TRS president and Telangana Chief Minister KCR said he is busy with the inauguration of Kaleshwaram irrigation project on June 21 and will instead send the party’s working president, KT Rama Rao, to attend the meeting.
Mayawati, Bahujan Samaj Party: BSP chief Mayawati will also give the meeting a miss. Calling the idea of simultaneous polls as ploy to divert attention from key issues, Mayawati said she would have been a part of the meeting had EVMs been the focus
Sharad Pawar, National Congress Party: According to news agency PTI, Pawar will also not attend the meeting