Ram Gopal extended support to simultaneous polls. Will Akhilesh change it
A day after Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Ram Gopal Yadav backed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's push for 'one nation, one election', sharp divisions have emerged within the party over his stand. Sources informed that the line taken by Yadav is not the party's official stand, and a change may be on the cards once party chief and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav returns from his trip abroad Tuesday.
Senior party leaders are expected to meet Akhilesh and convey their reservation about the party endorsing simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislatures. The SP President earlier dared the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to implement simultaneous polls in 2019 after a electoral reforms committee, formed by the UP government, suggested that Assemblies whose term expires before 2021 can go to polls in 2019.
Meanwhile, the committee further suugested that Assemblies whose term expire after 2021 can have elections in 2024.
Responding to these suggestions, Akhilesh said: “We have no problems with ‘one nation one election’. I ask them to implement ‘one nation one election’ from 2019 itself and hold Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.”
“Politically, it makes sense to dare the BJP government to hold Assembly elections in UP along with the upcoming General Elections in 2019. Akhilesh's reaction was confined to the committee's suggestions and also on Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) government's rising unpopularity in the state. However, to back the idea at a meeting convened by the Law Commission, cannot be party's official stand. Let Akhilesh return from his overseas trip which could see party change its position,” said a senior party leader.
Another senior leader of the party claimed that no one in the party was aware that Ram Gopal would support the Narendra Modi government on this idea. “By supporting this idea, it seems we are also supporting the idea of holding next UP Assembly elections in 2024. I don't think this is what the party wants. We should wait for Akhilesh to return to make the party's official stand clear,” he said.
The Law Commission invited recognised political parties to present their views on simultaneous elections held Saturday and Sunday. Having prepared a draft paper on 'Simultaneous Elections – Constitutional and Legal Perspectives', the Commission sought opinions of stakeholders, including political parties, constitutional experts, bureaucrats and members of the academia. Once satisfied, the Commission will prepare a report and send it to the government.
Most parties opposed the idea claiming that it would subvert the Constitution by eroding India's federal structure and undermining regional aspirations. During the course of two days, Dravida Munnetra Khazagam, the Telugu Desam Party, the Bodoland People's Front, the SP, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Janata Dal (Secular), the Aam Aadmi Party, Shiromani Akali Dal, All-India Dravida Munnetra Khazagam, Biju Janata Dal, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Trinamool Congress, Goa Forward Party and Forward Block, appeared before the Commission.
While most parties opposed the idea, the SP, SAD, BJD, TRS and the BPF favoured the idea. Except SP, these parties were expected to back the government. Therefore, SP's decision to support 'one nation, one poll' idea surprised all, considering how it has been batting for a united Opposition to take on the government over its policies and programmes.
“The Samajwadi Party is in favour of simultaneous elections, but they should begin from 2019. In case public representatives switch sides or indulge in horse trading, action should be taken against them by the LG with a week,” Ram Gopal was quoted saying by ANI.
The SP remains the only party from the united opposition camp to have endorsed the idea.
Meanwhile, the Indian National Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party and the BJP have not stated their position on the issue as yet and have demanded for more time before making their intent clear. As far as SP is concerned, all eyes are on Akhilesh's return to see whether the party has a change of heart.