Mamata Banerjee slams simultaneous polls panel: 'Biased view, top-down decision' | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Mamata Banerjee slams simultaneous polls panel: 'Biased view, top-down decision'

Jan 11, 2024 05:50 PM IST

Mamata Banerjee also objected to the idea of holding simultaneous elections.

New Delhi: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the High Level Committee for ‘One Nation, One Election’ of pandering to the central government by “conveying some sort of a unilateral top-down decision” taken without consulting with states. In a strongly worded letter to the secretary of the committee, the Trinamool Congress supremo alleged no chief minister was included in the panel “for fear of receiving practical objections”.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI file photo)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.(PTI file photo)

"You seem to be conveying some sort of a unilateral top-down 'decision' already taken by the Central Government to impose a structure that is certainly against the spirit of a truly democratic and federal one laid down by the esteemed Constitution of India. From the tenor of your letter, it appears that you view the proposed amendments to the Constitution as a mere formality that is to be got over with, along with other 'minor matters like preparation of common electoral rolls. Instead of consulting State Governments, that are, indeed, the very pillars of our federal Constitution, your letter brusquely informs us (as a political party) that the High-Level Committee is in agreement with the much-touted advantages of simultaneous all-India polls," she wrote in the letter.

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"We object to the most unrepresentative composition of this Committee and point out that no Chief Ministers are taken on board for fear of receiving practical objections. From the tenor of your correspondence and manner in which you accept half-baked assumptions as given facts, we doubt if the HLC is seriously interested in analyzing the demerits of the case," she added.

Also read: ‘Simultaneous elections possible, but not easy’: Former CEC Navin Chawla at HTLS 2023

Mamata Banerjee also objected to the idea of holding simultaneous elections.

"I further suspect that your approach fails to consider that Parliamentary elections and State Legislative elections are substantially different in character. The founders of our Constitution deliberately delineated certain subjects for State-level and local consideration and mandated that these would be dealt with by the constituent States. This essential requirement is smothered when they are distracted by issues that require consideration at the national level. Numerous State level issues and debates will just be superseded by the so-called 'national election'. These subtleties and absolute necessities are either not understood or deliberately ignored by your suggestions," she added.

Earlier this month, the committee, headed by former president Ram Nath Kovind, invited suggestions from the public "for making appropriate changes in the existing legal administrative framework to enable simultaneous elections in the country".

In the letter, Banerjee wrote she has conceptual difficulties in agreeing with the panel over holding all the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections simultaneously. She pointed out that most states have different electoral schedules and holding simultaneous elections will result in either extending or curtailing the tenures of most of the assemblies across the nation.

Also read: ‘One Nation, One Election’: Former president Kovind-led panel invites suggestions from public

"How would you like to make the Parliamentary elections and the State legislature elections co-eval? In 1952, the first general elections were simultaneously conducted for the Central level as well as for the State levels. There was such simultaneity for some years. But the coevality has since been ruptured. Owing to a series of historical developments, different States have different elections calendars now, and those calendars are also susceptible to changes due to potential (and often unforeseen) political developments. It is not clear how this basic issue of introduction of coevality is going to be addressed by your esteemed committee. States which are not expecting general Vidhan Sabha elections should not be forced to go for premature general elections for the sake of introduction of coevality only: that will be basic violation of the electoral trust of the people who have elected their Vidhan Sabha representatives for full five years," she said.

The Narendra Modi government contends holding simultaneous elections will save huge spending from the public exchequer and avoid repetition of administrative effort. The government thinks the exercise will also control the expenses of political parties.The Opposition calls the idea BJP's agenda.

History of Simultaneous Elections

In India, simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies took place in 1951-52, 1957, 1962 and 1967. However, after 1967, the schedules of the Lok Sabha and state assemblies could never be aligned together.

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