Congress declines invitation to High Level Committee to examine ‘one nation, one election’

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has declined to serve on the High-Level Committee examining 'one nation, one election', citing the panel's predetermined conclusions.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

New Delhi | Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who was named a member of the High-Level Committee (HLC) constituted by the Centre on Saturday to examine ‘one nation, one election’ has declined to serve on the panel, saying its “terms of reference have been prepared in a manner to guarantee its conclusions”.

Former President Ram Nath Kovind is the Chairman of the committee.

In a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also a member of HLC, Chowdury, who is Congress leader in Lok Sabha, questioned the Centre’s motives in forming the committee.

“I have just got to know through the media and a Gazette notification has appeared that I have been appointed as a Member of the High-Level Committee on simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabhas. I have no hesitation whatsoever in declining to serve on the Committee whose terms of reference have been prepared in a manner to guarantee its conclusions. It is, I am afraid, a total eyewash,” Chowdhury said.

He termed the Centre’s move concerning simultaneous polls as “constitutionally suspect, pragmatically non-feasible”.

“The sudden attempt to thrust a constitutionally suspect, pragmatically non-feasible and logistically unimplementable idea on the nation, months before the general elections, raises serious concerns about ulterior motives of the government,” he said.

Chowdhury also raised objections to the exclusion of the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge from HLC.

“I find that the current LOP in the Rajya Sabha has been excluded. This is a deliberate insult to the system of Parliamentary democracy. In these circumstances, I have no option but to decline your invitation,” he said.

The HLC includes Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, who left the Congress.

The Centre on Saturday constituted an eight-member high-level committee

to examine the issue of ‘one nation, one election’ and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections in the country.

An official notification said that former President Kovind is Chairman of HLC and it comprises Home Minister Amit Shah, Ahir Ranjan Chowdhury, Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Finance Commission Chairman NK Singh, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash C Kashyap, Senior Advocate Harish Salve and former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Sanjay Kothari.

It said that Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will attend the meetings of the High-Level Committee as a special invitee.

The committee has been set up months before assembly polls to five states and ahead of Lok Sabha polls next year.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi had informed about the constitution of the committee on Friday.

"Right now, a committee has been constituted. A report from the committee will come out which will be discussed. The Parliament is mature, and discussions will take place, there is no need to get nervous. India is called the mother of democracy, there is always an evolution. I will discuss the agenda of the Special session of Parliament," he said.

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