Leaders of many Opposition parties are likely to skip the meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss his “one nation, one election” proposal.
They include Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M.K. Stalin, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar.
The issue was discussed at the first floor coordination meeting chaired by Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday evening.
Though Congress chief Rahul Gandhi attended the coordination meeting, he refused to answer whether he would take part in Mr. Modi’s meeting.
“You will get know tomorrow,” Ms. Sonia Gandhi said when asked about the Congress’s participation.
A senior Opposition leader said constituents of the United Progressive Alliance or those associated with the grouping were unhappy with the government’s invite to only the presidents of those parties represented in Parliament. It did not leave any scope for sending a representative. “All those who met today [Tuesday] will meet again tomorrow to take a final call if we should attend,” he said.
The Opposition parties are set to meet at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday to discuss various issues in Parliament.
The Left parties will attend Mr. Modi’s meeting and oppose the idea, arguing that it circumvents the accountability of the legislature, enhances the role of the Governor and increases the scope for Central intervention.
In a letter to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi informing him of her decision, Ms. Banerjee urged the government instead to prepare a white paper, especially if it wanted “concrete suggestions”.
The DMK cited Mr. Stalin’s “prior commitments” as the reason for his inability to attend. The party is opposed to Mr. Modi’s idea, contending that it would subvert federalism and democratic rights.
Ms. Banerjee said the parties had been given too little time to respond.
“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,” Ms. Banerjee wrote. “The matter requires consultations with constitutional experts, elections experts and above all the party members.”
Other Opposition leaders have not given reasons for not attending.
At an all-party meeting on Sunday, Mr. Modi said he wanted a debate on “one nation, one election”, saying a lot of time, energy and money was spent on holding elections as each State goes to the polls at different times.
More on agenda
Mr. Joshi invited the presidents of all political parties to attend the meeting. Besides “one nation, one election”, the meeting would have on its agenda the government’s scheme of aspirational districts, plans for the celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the commemmoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary this year.
Those who attended Tuesday’s meeting with Ms. Sonia Gandhi included the newly nominated Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, CPI leader D. Raja, Kanimozhi and T.R. Baalu of the DMK, Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan, Revolutionary Socialist Party leader N.K. Premachandran, Muslim League leader P.K. Kunhalikutty, and Kerala Congress(M) leader Thomas Chazhikadan.
Sources said the party leaders discussed the Opposition plans to deal with the government in Parliament during the Budget session on crucial issues such as triple talaq. In the Budget session, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha would have 30 and 27 sittings, respectively, between June 17 and 26.