India: PM Narendra Modi announces panel to study joint polls

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 Jun 19 announced formation of a committee to study various aspects of holding Lok Sabha elections along with all state assembly elections once every five years, following apprehensions expressed at an all-party meeting called for the purpose.
  • Heads of 21 political parties attended the ‘one country, one election’ meeting called by the government but 12 major opposition parties kept away.
  • Among those who attended, Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik supported simultaneous polls, while YSRCP chief Jaganmohan Reddy wanted his concerns to be addressed before implementing the idea.
  • The NCP questioned the feasibility of the idea and possibility of frequent central rule in states. CPM and CPI leaders disagreed with the proposal. Opposition parties said simultaneous elections may lead to ‘encroachment’ on federal rights, as dissolving assemblies before end of tenure was ‘anti-democratic’ and imposition of President’s rule to sync polls was unfair.
  • Patnaik echoed the views of Modi and said that frequent elections would affect the pace of development and rock the spirit of cooperative federalism. Incidentally, Patnaik had dissolved the Odisha assembly almost a year ahead of schedule in 2004 to sync state elections with the Lok Sabha polls.

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