Out of the 20,972 responses received by the high-level committee on the “one nation, one election” proposal, 81% have “affirmed” the idea of holding simultaneous polls, the Union law ministry said on Sunday.

The “one nation, one election” plan, first floated by the Bharatiya Janata Party in its manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, involves conducting elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies at the same time. The proponents of the plan argue that concurrent polls will help save money and allow the government to focus on development work.

In September, the Centre notified an eight-member high-level committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind to look into the feasibility of implementing the plan.

The committee held its third meeting on Sunday. In a statement after the meeting, the law ministry stated that the committee had invited suggestions from the public on the proposal from January 5 to January 15.

“...suggestions were also invited from 46 political parties,” it said. “Till date, suggestions have been received from 17 political parties. Suggestions by the Election Commission of India were also noted by the Committee.”

The panel will meet again on January 27.

In a letter on January 17, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge told the committee that the proposal to hold simultaneous elections goes against the basic structure of the Constitution, The Hindu reported.

Kharge had said that the idea should be abandoned for the sake of a “robust democracy”.

“It is distressing when even common voters feel the consultations of the committee are likely to be a pretence since minds have already been made up,” he wrote. “The Indian National Congress is strongly opposed to the very idea of one nation, one election.”

The Aam Aadmi Party has also opposed the proposal, saying that it will “damage the idea of parliamentary democracy”, the Hindustan Times reported.

“‘One nation, one election’ is unable to deal with hung legislatures and will actively encourage the evil of anti-defection and open buying and selling of MLAs and MPs,” AAP National Secretary Pankaj Gupta wrote in a letter to the committee’s secretary Niten Chandra on January 20.

Trinamool Congress Mamata Banerjee had on January 12 called the proposal “a design to subvert the basic structure of the Constitution” and said that it will allow “autocracy [in] a democratic garb to enter the national public arena”. “I am against autocracy and, hence, am against your design,” NDTV quoted Banerjee as saying.

All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi told the committee on January 15 that the government had not provided any rationale for the move.

“The focus is on the ‘creation of an appropriate legal and administrative framework for holding simultaneous elections on a permanent basis’,” he wrote. “More importantly, it has not been explored if such fundamental changes to India’s democratic structure are constitutionally permissible in the first place.”

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