Amid the government’s push for simultaneous elections in the country, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday said the people of India have ”one nation, one solution” for 2024 and that is to get rid of the BJP’s ”misrule”.
In a post on X, Kharge termed the high-level committee constituted by the Centre to examine the feasibility of ’One Nation, One Election’ a ”gimmick” and alleged the Modi government wants to slowly replace democracy in India with dictatorship.
The government on Saturday notified an eight-member high-level committee, which will be headed by former president Ram Nath Kovind, to examine and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha, state assemblies, municipalities and panchayats.
Hours later, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the lone opposition leader in the panel, wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah declining to be a part of the committee, saying its ”terms of reference have been prepared in a manner to guarantee its conclusions”.
In his post, Kharge said, ”This gimmick of forming a committee on ’One Nation, One Election’ is a subterfuge for dismantling the Federal Structure of India.” ”Drastic actions like ’One Nation, One Election’ would sabotage our Democracy, Constitution and evolved-time-tested procedures. What can be accomplished by simple electoral reforms would prove to be a disaster, like other disruptive ideas of PM Modi,” he said.
Till 1967, the Congress president said, neither did India have so many states nor did it have 30.45 lakh elected representatives in panchayats.
Noting that India is the world’s largest democracy, Kharge said, ”We have lakhs of elected representatives, and their future cannot be determined in one go, now.” ”For 2024, people of India only have ’ONE NATION, ONE SOLUTION’ – To get rid of BJP misrule,” he said.
Kharge said at least five amendments to the Constitution and a massive change in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 would be required to hold simultaneous elections in the country.
The constitutional amendments shall be required to truncate the terms of the elected Lok Sabha and state assemblies, as also at the level of local bodies so that they can be synchronised, he said.
”Essential questions:- Without undermining the wisdom of any individual, is the proposed committee best suited to deliberate and decide on perhaps the most drastic disruption in Indian electoral process? ”Should this huge exercise unilaterally be undertaken without consulting the political parties at the National level and at the State level,” asked Kharge, who is also the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha.
He further asked if this exercise should take place without bringing the states and their elected governments on board.
”This idea has been extensively rejected by three Committees in the past. It remains to be seen whether the Fourth one has been constituted with a pre-decided outcome in mind,” he said.
He also expressed surprise that the committee does not include a representative of the Election Commission (EC).
Kharge claimed the EC incurred an expenditure of around Rs 5,500 crore on elections between 2014-19 (including the 2019 Lok Sabha polls) and it is only a fraction of the government’s expenditure budget. This makes the cost-saving logic ”penny wise, pound foolish”, he said.
”Similarly, if the Model Code of Conduct is a problem, it can be changed either by shortening the length of the moratorium or by relaxing the kinds of developmental activities permitted during the election season. All political parties can reach a wider consensus in this regard,” he said.
”The BJP has a habit of overthrowing elected governments by disregarding the mandate of the people, which has added considerably to the total number of 436 by-elections since 2014 for parliamentary and assembly constituencies alone,” the Congress president said.
”This inherent greed for power in the BJP has already vitiated our politics and has rendered the anti-defection law toothless,” Kharge said.
Besides, Congress’ Chowdhury, the government named Home Minister Amit Shah, former leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Finance Commission chairman N K Singh, former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C Kashyap, senior advocate Harish Salve and former chief vigilance commissioner Sanjay Kothari as members of the high-level committee.
Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will attend the meetings of the committee as a special invitee, while Law Secretary Niten Chandra will be the secretary to the panel.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)