Modi calls for all-party meet on ‘one nation, one election’


Let’s work for nation’s progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tells leaders of Opposition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday invited heads of all parties in Parliament to a meeting on June 19 to discuss ‘one nation, one election’.

Ahead of the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, Mr. Modi addressed leaders of the Opposition at an all-party meet, where he asked them to introspect and urged Parliament to “reflect upon a new way of thinking along with new faces who have entered the august House”.

“We are for the people, we cannot win hearts by disrupting the functioning of Parliament. All parties must keep political differences aside and commit themselves to tirelessly work in the direction of nation’s progress,” he was quoted as saying by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.

The June 19 meeting had also been called to discuss celebrations of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year, Mr. Joshi said.

The Prime Minister will also be hosting a dinner for all parliamentarians on June 20.

Though the Opposition seems in disarray, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said they would continue with their ideological fight.

“We have told the government that we will help pass all the bills that are in the interest of the people and the country,” he said without indicating its stand on the triple talaq ordinance that makes instant divorce or talaq-e-biddat a criminal offence.

Along with triple talaq, there are 10 ordinances that need to be converted into law within six weeks of Parliament session that gets under way on Monday and will continue until July 26.

Another ordinance is on extending President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir. “If the government can conduct Lok Sabha polls peacefully, there is no reason why Assembly elections can’t be held. It’s because the government thinks the result won’t be in their favour and that’s why they want to rule through Central rule,” alleged Mr. Azad.

After the first three days of oath-taking, President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of Parliament on June 20, and on July 5, the government will announce the Budget for 2019-2020.

The Opposition raised issues such as unemployment, farmers’ distress, drought, press freedom, women’s safety and price rise among others.

Trinamool’s Sudip Bandopadhyay raised the issue of threat to federal structure and constant interference in the working of a State government, while his colleague Derek O’Brien demanded the immediate passage of the women’s reservation bill and the excessive use of the ordinance route.

“Unfortunately, in the 16th Lok Sabha, it was blatantly overused. Highest percentage of ordinances in 70 years,” Mr. O’Brien said.

The Trinamool also raised electoral reforms, including state funding of elections and paper ballots.

Communist Party of India leader D. Raja talked about how Mr. Modi saluted the Constitution while starting his second term and mentioned the need to protect the “constitutional values of secularism and pluralism”.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Mr. Joshi and his deputies represented the government side.

Other prominent Opposition leaders who took part included DMK’s TR Baalu, Congress’s Anand Sharma, Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, K Suresh, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Supriya Sule of the NCP and Pinaki Misra, among others.