On the eve of the crucial meet of the presidents of all political parties, West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee asked for a white-paper on 'One Country, One Election' from the Centre, suggesting that it invite views of all political parties by providing them adequate time and decided to give the invitation from prime minister Narendra Modi, a miss.
“If you only do so, we will be able to give you concrete suggestions on this important subject”, a letter from the chief minister, addressed to union parliamentary affairs minister, Pralhad Joshi, read.
Banerjee said that discussing the issue at a short notice would not do justice to it. The matter required consultations with constitutional experts, election experts and party members before a response could be given, she added.
“I would like to mention that a proper response on such a sensitive and serious subject like One Country and One Election in such a short time would not do justice to the subject it deserves”, the letter said.
On Sunday, Modi invited the presidents of all political parties having at least one member either in the Upper and Lower House of Parliament for a discussion on this subject. Other issues including celebration of 75 years’ of independence and the 150th birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi are also to be discussed in the meeting.
This concept of One Country, One Election implies that elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislatures be held at the same time. Experts say that elections during 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967 were based on this concept, but have pointed out that changes in law may be needed to implement it.
This is the third consecutive time that Banerjee declined invitations from Modi – the first being, his swearing in ceremony and the second being, the first Niti Aayog meeting which Modi held after taking charge as prime minister for the second time.
However, Banerjee said that West Bengal would “whole-heartedly participate in the most befitting manner” as far as celebrations over independence and Mahatma Gandhi were concerned.
She said that as far as the development of Aspirational Districts was concerned, the state government had conveyed its views to the Niti Aayog that it did not support selecting a few districts as it contradicted the objectives of achieving balanced and uniform development of all districts in the state.
Even as the Centre pleaded to the opposition for improving productivity in the Parliament, Banerjee stated that Joshi could consult all political parties and whatever was decided by other parties, her party would agree to it.