Congress in a fix over Modi's poll reform push

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad skirted questions on whether the Congress would attend the meeting of presidents of political parties in Parliament convened by Modi on Wednesday to discuss electoral reforms, particularly 'one nation, one poll', a pet agenda of the BJP. (PTI File Photo)

The Congress appeared to be in a dilemma over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's strong pitch for 'one nation, one poll' and outreach to Parliamentarians for a brainstorming session about the 75th anniversary of India's Independence.

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad skirted questions on whether the Congress would attend the meeting of presidents of political parties in Parliament convened by Modi on Wednesday to discuss electoral reforms, particularly 'one nation, one poll', a pet agenda of the BJP.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is away in London and it was not immediately clear whether he would be returning to attend the Lok Sabha session beginning on Monday and the subsequent meeting convened by Modi to discuss electoral reforms.

"We will discuss within the Parliamentary party and then decide," senior Congress leader Kodikunnil Suresh said when asked about Congress representation at the meeting convened by Modi on Wednesday. Suresh, a seven-term Lok Sabha member, attended the all-party meeting along with Azad.

Congress is opposed to the idea of 'one nation, one poll', contending that it went “against the basic structure of federalism”. The Left parties, Trinamool, RJD, TDP, AIMIM and AAP too are opposed to the concept of simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

At the all-party meeting convened by the government ahead of the Parliament Session, Azad said that while the Opposition congratulated the government, it made it clear that their ideological fight will continue.

Azad called for early conduct of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, currently under President’s rule, asserting that if Lok Sabha polls can be held then why not state Assembly polls.

Azad said that the Congress was not opposed to all those bills which are in the interest of the people, but also insisted on a discussion on farmers distress, unemployment and drought, he said.

Trinamool leaders Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien wanted the Modi government to stop interfering with the functioning of state governments.

O'Brien also wanted the government to speed up discussion on electoral reforms, particularly state funding of elections. The Trinamool also made a strong pitch for a return to ballot paper for the conduct of elections, instead of Electronic Voting Machines.

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