New Delhi (India), June 19 (ANI): Claiming that a majority of political parties was in favour of "One Nation, One Election" idea, the government today announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will constitute a committee to study the feasibility of the concept after a meeting of parties from which main Opposition Congress and major parties kept away.
Briefing the media after the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Modi would constitute the committee after consultations.
"The Prime Minister told the meeting that it is not a government agenda, it is a national agenda. We want to move forward on the issue in consultations with political parties," Singh said.
The Defence Minister conceded that there was a difference of opinion which the government would respect.
He said the majority of the parties present at the meeting supported the proposal and the difference of opinion was expressed in the form of apprehension as to how the idea could be implemented.
Asked about the absence of major parties in the meeting, Singh said presidents of 40 political parties represented in the Parliament of which 21 were present.
Main Opposition Congress, DMK, TMC, TDP, JD (S), SP and BSP did not attend the meeting, while Chief Ministers of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha participated in it as did leaders of left parties, NCP and Akali Dal.
Singh said in all five issues were discussed, they were -- how to increase productivity in Parliament, development of aspirational districts, water management, cleanliness campaign and the making of new India in the context of the 75th anniversary of India's independence of 2022 and 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
An official statement said that on the issue of 'one country, one election' several party presidents support for simultaneous conduct of elections. Several parties were also of the view that all aspects of this proposal need to be examined carefully.
In his speech, Modi noted that this was not a single party agenda but is an issue of national importance and the views of all parties would be considered and given due importance.
The statement said the prime minister announced that a committee would be formed to examine the issue of 'one country, one election' threadbare and come up with suggestions in a time-bound manner.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Modi spoke about the productivity in Parliament and said there was a consensus among all parties that there should be fruitful discussions in Parliament and cordial atmosphere should be maintained.
BJP President Amit Shah appreciated Modi for convening the meeting and seek the views of political parties on these matters.
CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said at this juncture, the "One Nation, One Election" idea is both anti-democratic and anti-federal. He said the view was also shared by NCP chief Sharad Pawar and CPI General Secretary S Sudhakar Reddy who were in the meeting.
Yechury said under the proposal, any attempt to prolong or shorten the term of an Assembly or Lok Sabha is anti-democratic and will oppose it. However, the idea was supported by TRS and Akali Dal.
He said the proposal was a way of bringing the presidential system to replace parliamentary democracy through the backdoor.
TRS Working President KT Rama Rao welcomed the proposal and said the meeting made a right beginning.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, President of Akali Dal, an ally of BJP, said the Prime Minister was not forcing the concept on anyone and that it was an idea that comes to his mind. Ninety-nine of the parties supported his "One Nation, One Election" idea," he said.
In the meeting, various party presidents noted with concern the frequent adjournments and disruptions in the Houses of Parliament. They observed that this impacted on the productivity and denied members opportunities for members to express their views on issues of the day.
They emphasised that an atmosphere and d8ialogue must prevail in Parliament. Half of the members of the 17th Lok Sabha are first time MPs who would take this opportunity to carry forward the spirit of constructive dialogue in the House.
The statement said several parties strongly expressed the view that the new generation must be made aware of the ideas and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and his 150th birth anniversary is an apt occasion to do so.
Parties were also of the view that the parties can take a firm resolve for the development of the country on this occasion and aim to accomplish these goals by 2022, the 75th anniversary of Independence.
On the issue of development of aspirational districts, all parties had a constructive view and gave a number of suggestions.
Modi said that all State Governments must work in coordination with the Centre to bring the most backward districts in their States at par with the best performing districts. This way the goal of a 'New India' would be achieved by 2022, he added.
The Prime Minister thanked the Party Presidents for their participation and constructive suggestions. He said that the next few years represent a historic opportunity, to take the country forward on the path of progress and prosperity.
Other Cabinet Ministers who attended the meeting included, Home Minister Amit Shah, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, among others. (ANI)