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HomeNews'Undemocratic idea': Cong opposes 'one nation one election'

‘Undemocratic idea’: Cong opposes ‘one nation one election’

NEW DELHI: The

Congress

on Friday rejected the idea of conducting

simultaneous elections

in India, terming it “

undemocratic

” and called for dissolution of the

high-powered committee

formed to examine it.
In a letter addressed to the secretary of high-level committee for ‘One Nation One Election’, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said the concept goes against the guarantees of

federalism

and the basic structure of the Constitution.

In his letter Kharge urged the chairman and former president Ram Nath Kovind that, “not to allow his persona and the office of the former president of India to be abused by the Union government to subvert the constitution and parliamentary democracy in this country”.
“The Indian National Congress is strongly opposed to the very idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’. For the sake of maintaining a thriving and a robust democracy, it is imperative that the entire idea must be abandoned and the high-powered committee dissolved,” Kharge said in his letter.

Earlier this month, former President Ram Nath Kovind-led panel on ‘One Nation, One Election’ had invited suggestions from the public “for making appropriate changes in existing legal administrative framework to enable simultaneous elections in the country”. In a public notice, the committee said that the suggestions received by January 15 would be taken up for consideration.
Kharge alleged the committee seems to have “already made up its mind and seeking a consultation seems to be an eye wash”.

“The government, parliament and ECI should work together to ensure people’s mandate is respected rather than divert people’s attention by talking about undemocratic ideas like simultaneous elections,” Kharge said.
Kharge expressed concern about the committee’s “biased” composition, emphasizing that it lacks substantial representation from opposition parties leading various state governments.
“When the committee is headed by no less than the former President of India, it is distressing when even common voters feel the consultations of the committee are likely to be a pretence since minds have already been made up. Firm views in support of the proposal have already been expressed in public and a dispassionate analysis of pros and cons is not being attempted in a serious and systematic manner,” the Congress chief said in his response.
He highlighted that both the government and the committee should have been transparent from the beginning, acknowledging that their endeavor contradicts the fundamental structure of the Constitution.
“There is no place for the concept of simultaneous elections in a country that has adopted a Parliamentary system of government. Such forms of simultaneous elections that are being floated by the government go against the guarantees of federalism contained in the Constitution,” Kharge asserted.
Kharge went on to further criticize the Niti Aayog report proposing President’s Rule until synchronized elections, deeming it a threat to democracy.
Kharge said that he was amused to hear the claims that simultaneous elections would significantly save costs, finding the argument against the high expenses of elections unfounded.
He pointed out that the expenditure on elections constitutes less than 0.02 percent of the total Union budget over the past five years. Observing that the costs for assembly elections may also represent a comparable percentage of state budgets, he expressed the belief that citizens would view this modest amount as the necessary expense for ensuring free and fair elections, thereby upholding democracy.
He said expenditure on 2014 elections was Rs 3,870 crores which the committee claims is high.
“If the committee, the government and ECI are serious about the expenditure made on elections, it would be more appropriate if they could make the funding process more transparent, especially in the matter of electoral bonds. This would truly empower the voter and increase voter awareness,” he said.
Since his first term in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advocated “One Nation One Election”, citing adverse impact on development due to MCC restrictions and the drain on resources. However, the government has maintained that in view of the sensitivity of the issue, there should be a consensus amongst all political parties and public opinion should also be sought before taking a decision.

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