Tuesday, Dec 12, 2023

One Nation, One Election: No Urgency In Implementing It, All Political Parties Will Be Consulted, Says Ghulam Nabi Azad

One Nation, One Election: No Urgency In Implementing It, All Political Parties Will Be Consulted, Says Ghulam Nabi Azad

Ghulam Nabi Azad is the member of the committee, headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind, to look into the feasibility of the 'one nation, one election'.

Ghulam Nabi Azad
Ghulam Nabi Azad Photo: PTI/Vijay Verma

Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) Chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said there is no urgency in the implementation of the 'one nation, one election' and all political parties would be consulted for it. 

Azad is part of the high-level committee to look into the feasibility of 'one nation, one election', which is a term for the holding of simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and assemblies of states and union territories (UTs). The committee is headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind. 

Azad also said that so far only a preliminary meeting of the committee has been held which was introductory in nature. 

Last month, as the Narendra Modi government announced a five-day Special Session of the Parliament, the speculations arose that the government could bring a legislation regarding 'one nation, one election', which the government and leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have talked about previously. The speculations gained traction as the government formed the committee headed by Kovind shortly after the announcement of the Special Session. 

Despite the speculations, the issue of 'one nation, one election' did not come up in the parliamentary session. The Modi government instead introduced the Women's Reservation Bill and got it passed in both the houses with near-unanimous support.

Azad is the only politician on the 'one nation, one election' committee not part of the government. The government had also named Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, as a member but he refused to be a part of the committee. 

The other members of the 'one nation, one election' committee are: Union Home Minister Amit Shah, former Chairman of 15th Finance Commission NK Singh, former Lok Sabha General Secretary Subash Kashyap, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari, and Ministers of State (Independent Charge) for Law and Justice Arjun Ram Meghwal.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Azad also said it would be wrong to think that the committee would arrive at any decision by itself. 

"Only a preliminary meeting has been held. It was an introductory meeting. I do not think there is any urgency in implementing it, as some people are saying, because consultations are to be held with national parties, regional parties, recognised parties….Many people have to be called (for consultation)...It is also wrong to think that the committee will take a decision on its own. Everyone’s opinion will be sought," said Azad, as per PTI. 

The Congress party, which Azad was part of for decades, and the Opposition alliance INDIA have rejected the 'one nation, one election'. The Congress has termed the formation of the committee by the Modi government as a "diversion" from the issues the country is facing at the moment. 

In his interaction with reporters in Srinagar on Monday, Azad further said that the women's reservation has come 30 years later and lauded the parties for coming together to clear it in both the houses. 

Last month, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha passed the Women's Reservation Bill with near-unanimity. The bill, which became law when President Droupadi Murmu gave it her assent, seeks to reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and in the assemblies of states and Union Territories (UTs) for women. 

"It has come late. It should have come 15 to 20 years earlier… It should have come even 30 years earlier. The earlier attempts like during the UPA, some of the constituent parties were against it. There was no unanimity. Now, at least there is unanimity, and it was passed in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The government and all the parties, which did not stick to their rigidity and supported the bill this time, deserve to be congratulated for it," said Azad, as per PTI.

On the question of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad said that there can be democracy without elections. 

There has been no assembly in J&K since 2018 when the then-Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the assembly months after the Mehbooba Mufti-led government collapsed after the junior partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew its support. The assembly elections were last held in 2014 in J&K. 

"It is unthinkable that there will be no elections. If there are no elections, there will be no democracy. And the elections are not only due but overdue, especially the assembly elections. Parliament elections are held on time, there has been no difficulty but it has been a long time since assembly polls were held," said Azad, as per PTI.