Former finance minister says the idea is impossible to execute under the present Constitution, also takes on government on the issue of job creation.
New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP P. Chidambaram Tuesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA government for promoting the idea of ‘one nation, one election’.
“The Constitution of India doesn’t give a fixed term to any government. In a parliamentary democracy, under the present Constitution, it is not possible. Therefore, this ‘one nation, one election’ is also a jumla (roughly, an empty phrase),” said Chidambaram.
He was speaking at the launch of his book Speaking Truth to Power, which was released by former President Pranab Mukherjee.
Chidambaram’s comment came during a discussion with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, former deputy chairman of the erstwhile Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta.
“What if a state government doesn’t complete its term? Would you impose President’s Rule for the remaining period? This is simply not possible in a country with 30 states,” Chidambaram said.
Prime Minister Modi has been advocating the idea of ‘one nation, one election’, saying it would minimise the expenditure on elections and aid robust policy making, which gets affected due to the application of the Model Code of Conduct.
Even President Ram Nath Kovind mentioned this in his address to both houses of Parliament at the beginning of the budget session Monday.
“Frequent elections not only impose a huge burden on human resources but also impede the development process due to the promulgation of the Model Code of Conduct,” the President said in his address. “Therefore, a sustained debate is required on the subject of simultaneous elections, and all political parties need to arrive at a consensus on this issue.”
Chidambaram attacked the Modi government on unemployment, questioning reports which suggest that 75 lakh new jobs were generated in 2016-17.
“China has a GDP which is five times India’s GDP, and it generates 150 lakh jobs a year. Seventy-five lakh new EPFO new accounts don’t mean this is the amount of new jobs generated,” he argued.
“About 66 lakh people in India come to the job market every year. If job generation is 75 lakh, why are the likes of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani able to mobilise people? You may say caste is a convenient tool to mobilise them, but no one would hit the streets if they had jobs.”
On the question of opposition unity to challenge the BJP, both Chidambaram and Tharoor said that it is a work in progress, and will come to the fore in due course.
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