Mamata Banerjee Criticizes Panel’s Biased View on Simultaneous Elections Decision


Mamata Banerjee accuses High Level Committee for One Nation, One Election of pandering to central government.

The Trinamool Congress chief accused the committee of making a “unilateral top-down decision” without consulting the states.

In a letter to the Secretary of the committee on Thursday, Banerjee alleged that no chief minister had been included in the panel for fear of facing practical objections.

You seem to be hinting at some kind of unilateral top-down ‘decision’ already taken by the central government to impose a structure which is totally antithetical to the spirit of a genuinely democratic and federal India laid down in the Constitution of India. The tone of your letter makes it clear that you consider the proposed amendments to be a mere formality to be completed along with other minor matters such as preparing the common electoral rolls.

Instead of consulting the State Governments, which are, in fact, the pillars of the federal Constitution of India, your letter brashly tells us (as a party) that the high-level committee agrees with the much-hyped advantages of holding all-India polls at the same time. She wrote in the letter:

We object to the unrepresentative nature of this Committee and note that no Chief Minister is consulted for fear of being overruled in practice. From the tone of your correspondence and

the way you accept half-truths as facts, we question whether the HLC is genuinely interested in examining the shortcomings of this case, she said.

Mamata also ruled out holding simultaneous polls.

She also said, “I also think that your approach does not take into account that parliamentary and State legislative elections are very different in nature. The founding fathers of our Constitution made it clear that there are certain subjects that need to be considered at the state and local levels and that these are to be taken care of by the states. This fundamental requirement is drowned out when they get distracted by matters that need to be dealt with at the state level. A lot of issues and discussions at the state level will just be replaced by the national election. These details and absolute requirements are either not clear or deliberately overlooked by your proposals,” she added.

The committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind earlier this month sought suggestions from the public on how to amend the current legal administrative framework to allow simultaneous elections across the country.

Banerjee wrote in the letter that she has conceptual issues with agreeing with the panel to hold all the Lok Sabha elections and Vidhan Sabha polls at the same time. She said that most states have staggered electoral calendars and holding simultaneous polls will lead to the extension or reduction of the term of most assemblies across the country.

How do you want to make the Parliamentary election and the State legislature election co-equal? 

The first general elections were held simultaneously at both the Central and State levels in 1952. For a few years after that, the coevality was maintained. However, due to a number of historical events, different States now have different election calendars. These calendars are also prone to changes due to possible (and often unexpected) political developments. 

I am not sure how your esteemed committee will address this fundamental question of introducing coevality. 

States which are not expecting the general Vidhan Sabha election should not be compelled to hold premature general elections just to introduce coevality. This would be a fundamental violation of the electoral confidence of the people who voted for full five years of the Vidhan Sabha.

The rationale behind holding simultaneous polls is that it will save the government a lot of money and prevent the repetition of administrative work. The government also believes that it will control the expenditure of the political parties. The opposition calls this idea the BJP agenda.