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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today (Tuesday, June 18) communicated that she was not going to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled meeting with political party chiefs tomorrow to discuss the idea of ‘one nation, one election’ which he has been pushing for.

Banerjee also asked the government to prepare a white paper on ‘one nation, one election’ and not rush it.

Modi and his party BJP have been advocating that elections to all state assemblies and Lok Sabha be held together, proffering arguments of administrative convenience and financial costs. Modi has said this would help cut down election costs and also provide government more time for governance. Elections to some state assemblies every year and the model code of conduct hampers government work, it is argued.

Modi has invited heads of all parties who have an MP either in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha for a meeting on June 19 to discuss several issues of which the ‘one nation, one election’ idea is the most significant. Other matters include celebration of the 75 years of Independence in 2022 and 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year. It will be followed by a dinner-meeting with all MPs on June 20.

Mamata Banerjee, in a letter to the Prahlad Joshi, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, said that the matter of ‘one nation, one election’ requires consultations with experts.

“A proper response on such a sensitive and serious subject like the “One Country, one election” in such a short time would not do justice to the subject it deserves. The matter requires consultations with constitutional experts, elections experts and above all the party members.

“Instead of doing the matter hurriedly, I would request you to kindly circulate a White Paper on the subject to all political parties inviting their views by providing adequate time. If you only do so, we will be able to give concrete suggestions on this important subject,” she wrote.

She further stated that regarding the development of aspirational districts, her party Trinamool Congress had already conveyed that they are not in support of selection of a few districts as it would not conform to the overall objectives of achieving balanced and uniform development of all the districts of the state.

“Our state is committed to ensuring social and economic development of all districts uniformly so that regional imbalances do not rise,” she said. She also said that she and her party would participate wholeheartedly in the 75 years of Independence in 2022 and 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year but stated that the issue regarding ways to improve the productivity of Parliament was a matter of the Lower House and should be dealt with by the concerned ministry.

Banerjee had skipped the Niti Ayog meeting also last week.

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