Congress, other oppn parties skip all-party meet on simultaneous polls

Would’ve attended meeting if it was about EVMs: Mayawati

New Delhi: Opposed to the idea of simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, several opposition parties, including the Congress, on Wednesday skipped the all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of ‘one nation, one election’.
Those joining the Congress in not attending the 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. The Left parties, represented by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI’s D Raja, attended the meeting but are opposed to the idea.
“We will attend and oppose the ‘one nation, one election’ issue,” a senior Left leader said.
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. The meeting was held in the library building of Parliament.
The Congress took the decision of staying away from the meeting after consultations with other parties on the issue. The party had convened a meeting of all opposition leaders on Wednesday morning to discuss the issue but it was cancelled in view of its president Rahul Gandhi’s birthday.
BSP chief Mayawati tweeted saying she would have attended the all-party meeting if it was on electronic voting machines (EVMs).
According to sources, Kejriwal did not attend the meeting. The Aam Aadmi Party would be represented by party member Raghav Chadha, they said. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi was represented at the meeting by its working president K T Rama Rao, the son of K Chandrashekar Rao.
On Tuesday, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee declined the invitation to attend the meeting and asked the Centre to instead prepare a white paper on the “one nation, one election” issue for consultations. Leaders of UPA constituents, who had met in Parliament on Tuesday evening, discussed the issue and decided that they would hold further discussions with other like-minded parties before taking a final call on the matter. Modi has invited the presidents of all the political parties that have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha to discuss the issue.
Sources said Opposition parties feel there needs to be greater discussions among various stakeholders before taking the issue further.
The agenda for the meeting also includes discussions on the celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year. It will be followed by a dinner meeting with all the MPs on Thursday.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Wednesday said that she would have attended the all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi if it was on EVMs.
The BSP chief alleged that people’s faith in the EVMs had dwindled to a “worrisome level”.
She described the idea of simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls as a ploy to divert attention from issues like poverty.
Mayawati’s statement came hours before the all-party meeting called by Modi in the national capital to discuss several issues, including the idea of “one nation, one election”, celebration of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year and 75 years of Independence in 2022.
In a statement, Mayawati said: “Elections in any democracy can never be a problem, nor the elections should be weighed from the point of view of expenditure and extravagance.
The ‘one nation, one election’ is, in fact, an attempt to divert the attention from burning national issues such as poverty, inflation, unemployment and increase in violence, and is simply an illusion.”
She further said that the stubbornness of conducting elections through electronic voting machines instead of ballot papers is the real threat to the democracy and Constitution of the country. “In these circumstances, if the meeting was convened to deliberate upon the detrimental issue, then I would have definitely attended it,” she added. (PTI)

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