The high-level committee formed to explore the feasibility of simultaneous polls under former president Ram Nath Kovind met on Saturday to decide on its action plan and discuss how to go about holding consultations with the stakeholders.
The government had, on September 2, notified the eight-member “high-level” panel to examine and make recommendations at the earliest on the issue of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha, state assemblies, municipalities and panchayats.
Describing the meeting as introductory in nature, people aware of the details said it was called to discuss the roadmap on how to go about the mandate given to the panel.
Preparation of working papers, how to go about holding consultations with the stakeholders and research on the subject for an in-depth discussion were also on the agenda of the meeting.
Home Minister Amit Shah, former leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Finance Commission chairman N K Singh are among the committee’s members.
Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was also a member. However, in a letter to Shah, he declined to be part of the panel.
“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 had said in the letter.
The government notification said the panel will commence functioning immediately and make recommendations “at the earliest”, but did not specify a time-frame for the submission of the report.
The decision to have a committee under former president Kovind had caught opposition bloc INDIA, holding its conclave in Mumbai on September 1, by surprise and further raised the political heat.
The opposition alliance had slammed the decision as a “threat” to the country’s federal structure.
The committee also has former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C Kashyap, senior advocate Harish Salve and former chief vigilance commissioner Sanjay Kothari as its members.
Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal will attend the meetings of the committee as a special invitee, while Law Secretary Niten Chandra will be the secretary to the panel.
The committee will examine and recommend specific amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act and any other laws and rules that would require amendments for the purpose of holding simultaneous elections.
With inputs from News18