'One nation, one election' deliberation today: Mamata, Stalin, Naidu among Opposition leaders to skip Narendra Modi's all-party meet

FP Staff

Several political leaders will skip the all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the key Opposition parties on Wednesday to discuss "one nation, one election" proposal, which was part of BJP's 2019 manifesto.

After Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee refused to attend the meet, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president MK Stalin, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (popularly known as KCR), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal followed suit.

According to CNN-News18, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav is also likely to skip Modi's all-party meet.

The main Opposition party, Congress, also decided to not attend the meet as it is "opposed" to the idea of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, sources said on Wednesday.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the party's top leaders in the Parliament after consultations with various other parties.

KT Rama Rao, working president of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and KCR's son, would represent the party in the meeting, a senior leader had said on Tuesday. "Working President KT Rama Rao will attend", TRS Parliamentary Party leader K Keshava Rao had told PTI.

Sources in TRS said, KCR is busy with preparations for the 21 June inauguration of the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project that would utilise water from the Godavari river, which flows through Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. He has personally invited Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh chief ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Jagan Mohan Reddy, respectively, for the event.

On the other hand, MP from Guntur Jayadev Galla is likely to represent the TDP at the all-party meeting. Kejriwal has also delegated a representative, Raghav Chadha, from his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), NDTV reported.

A senior Opposition leader had said constituents of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) were dissatisfied with the government's invite to only the presidents of those parties represented in Parliament. It did not leave any scope for sending a representative. He was quoted by The Hindu as saying "All those who met today [Tuesday] will meet again tomorrow to take a final call if we should attend."

Mayawati tweeted on Tuesday morning that said she would have attended the all-party meeting if it was on electronic voting machines (EVMs).

KCR, who had skipped an earlier meeting of the Niti Aayog governing council chaired by Modi, has expressed his disappointment with the Centre, saying his state has been ignored by the government.

"What is there to discuss? We will only maintain constitutional relations with Centre. I still back my Federal Front. No use talking to Centre. We didn't even get one rupee for the state. I have already stated that Modi runs a fascist govt. It is a fact on record," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The DMK cited Stalin's "prior commitments" as the reason for his inability to attend.

Mamata complained that the parties were given too little time to respond. "A proper response on such a sensitive and serious subject like the 'one country, one election' in such a short time would not do justice to the subject it deserves," Mamata said, adding "The matter requires consultations with constitutional experts, elections experts and above all the party members."

Turning down the proposal of developing "aspirational districts", Mamata said her party is against such a project as "it would not conform to the overall objectives of achieving balanced and uniform development of all districts in the state". The West Bengal chief minister had skipped the Niti Aayog meeting.

Other Opposition leaders have not given reasons for not attending. However, the chiefs of Left parties are likely to be present at the meet.

"All the Left parties are likely to attend the meeting. We will attend and oppose the 'one nation, one election' issue," a senior Left leader said.

Modi has invited the heads of all the political parties that have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha for Wednesday's meeting that he will chair to discuss several issues, including the 'one nation, one election' idea.