Rajya Sabha to debate poll reforms amid first Oppn show of unity
The Rajya Sabha is set to debate electoral reforms, especially the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), following notices given by 14 Opposition parties to counter PM Narendra Modi’s ‘one nation, one election’ push after his party’s thumping electoral win.
The parties that sent a notice to the Rajya Sabha seeking a debate are the Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Telugu Desam Party, the People’s Democratic Party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Aam Admi Party, the Kerala Mani Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Communist Party of India and the Trinamool Congress. The Trinamool Congress is likely to move the motion for the discussion.
The Opposition, which is coming together for the first time in the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, is expected to target the government over EVMs and electoral bonds among other issues.
The Opposition notice in Rajya Sabha came soon after the Prime Minister criticised the Congress for questioning the efficacy of EVMs .
“When the Congress faces defeat, they claim that the entire electoral process is flawed. They could not win any seats in 17 states...,” Modi said in Rajya Sabha while replying to the debate on the President’s address to Parliament.
The government had also convened a meeting of political parties in June in an attempt to forge a consensus on the issue but key parties such as Congress, BSP, AAP, SP and TDP stayed away from the meeting. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, however, said after the meeting that 21 of the 40 parties that attended the meeting were in favour of common polls but added that decision would be taken by consensus.
Simultaneous poll debate has been going on for some time now and the Law Commission had in 2018 backed the idea to save public money. The panel had recommended amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act to ensure concurrent polls.