CWC meeting: Congress to oppose CEC Bill, rejects ‘one nation, one election’ proposal | Political Pulse News

    The Congress also rejected the “one nation, one election” proposal, calling it an “assault” on the Constitution. The Narendra Modi government has already set up a high-level panel, headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind, to “examine and make recommendations for holding simultaneous elections” to the Lok Sabha, state Assemblies, municipalities and panchayats.

    During its first meeting being held in Hyderabad, the reconstituted Congress Working Committee (CWC) discussed the political, economic, and internal and external security situation in the country.

    The CWC said the calls for a “new Constitution” have to be resisted as also the “mischievous argument” that the basic structure of the Constitution can be changed. It passed a resolution which was heavily critical of the government’s handling of the economy and the border standoff with China. It also accused the government of weakening the federal structure of the country.

    In his opening remarks at the CWC meeting, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the special session “raises concerns” about the ruling BJP’s “intentions”. He said the agenda of the session has come out after a “long suspense”, whose main point is the government’s move to have “complete control” over the Election Commission (EC).

    “We have to be cautious about the intentions of the ruling party. This government wants a Parliament without the Opposition. They do not want any MP, media or common people to ask questions,” Kharge alleged.

    “Parliamentary debate and scrutiny have all but disappeared and far-reaching legislation is hurriedly pushed through without proper scrutiny and discussion. The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment etc) Bill introduced in Parliament will severely compromise the independence of the Election Commission to conduct free and fair elections,” the CWC resolution said.

    Later, addressing a press conference, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the Congress will oppose the CEC and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023. The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 10 and is listed for consideration during the special session.

    He said the Bill, if passed, will destroy the independence of the EC. “That is a damaging Bill. It will reduce the status of the Election Commissioners, it will undermine the independence of the Election Commission. We will oppose that Bill,” he said.

    The Indian Express on Friday reported that there is disquiet in a section of the establishment, including the EC, over a provision in this Bill that seeks to downgrade the service conditions of the three Election Commissioners and, consequently, threatens to erode their authority.

    The Bill proposes to revise the salary, allowance and service conditions of the CEC and the two Election Commissioners, aligning them with those of a Cabinet Secretary. As of today, it is aligned with that of a Supreme Court judge. There is a concern that aligning Election Commissioners with the bureaucracy could potentially tie their hands and undermine their authority.

    The Congress also rejected the “one nation, one election” proposal. “The ‘one nation, one election’ is an assault on the Constitution. We reject it. It is an attack on federalism. It will require at least five constitutional amendments. The BJP knows it does not have the numbers to pass these constitutional amendments, yet if it puts forward this mirage, it is only to divert attention from the pressing issues and create a false narrative. We reject this ‘one nation, one election’ idea,” Chidambaram said.

    The resolution said this proposal was yet another “brazen attack” on the federal structure of the country. “The Modi government has systematically undermined federalism through overriding legislation, reduction in the States’ share of tax revenues, misuse of the office of Governor, creating roadblocks in implementing schemes and programmes in Opposition-governed states (like it has happened in regard to the food security guarantee in Karnataka), and denying emergency funds and disaster relief to states (like Himachal Pradesh that has been hit by floods and landslides),” the resolution said.

    Amid speculation that the government could introduce the Women’s Reservation Bill during the special session, the party demanded that the Bill providing 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies be passed during the session.

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    At the CWC meeting, Kharge said the country was facing “serious internal challenges”, alleging that the BJP was “adding fuel to the fire” to flare up violence like in Manipur and Haryana that tarnish the image of a progressive and secular India.

    “Today, the country is facing many serious internal challenges. The whole world witnessed the heart-wrenching incidents in Manipur. Violence has been continuing there since May. The Modi government ensured that the fire of Manipur violence reached Nuh in Haryana. Due to incidents of violence there, communal tension spread in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi,” Kharge alleged.

    “These incidents tarnish the image of modern, progressive and secular India. In these circumstances, the ruling party, communal organisations and a section of the media are adding fuel to the fire. It destroys the secular fabric of the country. We have to together identify and expose such forces,” the Congress chief asserted.

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