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Panel to be set up on simultaneous polls

PTI

New Delhi

A committee for giving “time-bound” suggestions on the issue of ‘one nation, one election’ will be set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced on Wednesday after a meeting of chiefs of political parties.

In a bid to build a consensus on holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, Modi convened the meeting of presidents of all political parties for which 40 were invited. Twenty-one parties attended the meeting while three shared their views on the subject in writing.

Addressing media persons after the meeting, Singh, who moderated the gathering, said most parties supported the ‘one nation, one election’ idea.

However, Left parties such as the CPI and the CPI-M had “difference of opinion” on how the exercise of joint elections will be held and that they were “not opposed (to the idea)”, he said.

Among the notable absentees were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, SP president

Akhilesh Yadav, DMK’s M K Stalin, TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal.

The TRS was represented by its working president K T Rama Rao.

“Most of the parties supported ‘one nation one election’. There was some difference of opinion from the CPI-M and the CPI that how it will be done. And both Left parties didn’t directly oppose it rather expressed apprehensions that how it will be implemented,” he said adding, “the Prime Minister will form a committee which will hold discussions with all stake holders in a time-bound manner.”

According to sources, this panel is likely to be political in nature that will include leaders from various political parties.

Singh said Modi made it clear at the meeting that the “simultaneous polls is not government’s agenda and that it is the nation’s agenda.”

Quoting Modi, Singh said he told presidents of the political parties that if there is any difference of opinion it is welcome.

Modi had invited the heads of all political parties which have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha for the meeting to discuss several issues, including the “one nation, one election” idea, celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year.

Singh said on the issue of increasing the productivity of Parliament all parties were in agreement on this. Those leaders who were present in the meeting were of the opinion that there should be cordial atmosphere for communication and discussion in the House.

Leaders of various parties emphasised that the young generation should be aware about the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Singh said.

Those who attended the meeting included NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy, Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar, SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik and National People’s Party leader Conard Sangma.

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owais also attended.

Besides Modi and Singh, the government was represented by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, his cabinet colleagues Nitin Gadkari and Pralhad Joshi. BJP’s new working president JP Nadda was also present.

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