Dismissing the speculation about the name of the country being changed from ‘India’ to ‘Bharat’, the Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports, Anurag Thakur, talks about the time frame before the newly formed One Nation, One Election committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind and whether it will affect the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, and the possibility of women’s reservation Bill being tabled in the coming special session of Parliament.
There is a lot of curiosity about the coming special session of Parliament. Is it to bring about the name change to Bharat, simultaneous elections, or something else?
That is for the Parliamentary Affairs Minister to announce, and he will do it at the right time. In fact, when we were in the Opposition, we used to welcome such sessions because we would get an opportunity to speak and give our views on various issues.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has recused himself from the recently notified one nation, one election panel. How do you see this?
The Congress doesn’t have the numbers to have a Leader of the Opposition (in the Lok Sabha) but, despite that, they were invited to be a part of this panel. Now, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury should give his views as an Opposition leader – if they have any suggestions, views or objections to the idea of one nation, one election. It is not the end of the road, the discussion has just started. It is not that the government is forcing anything upon them.
The government has formed a committee under the able leadership of former president (Kovind), and one nation, one election will help save time, energy and money for the country. Taxpayers’ money will be put to better use, and time saved thus – which is the most important thing – will be used for nation-building, to make policies and implement programmes, rather than six months being spent on contesting elections every year.
But the Opposition has concerns regarding the timing of the debate, with crucial elections around the corner.
I see two areas where the Opposition seems on a very weak wicket. There is a fear in some of their leaders that the (Lok Sabha) elections may be held in December. But why are they afraid of elections? Because they can perhaps foresee their defeat. Secondly, they are afraid of losing more states whenever one nation, one election is implemented.
The Congress and a few other political parties also opposed one nation, one tax, but when it was implemented, the numbers went up from Rs 90,000 crore tax collection per month to Rs 1,60,000 crore. It benefited India. One nation, one election will save money, time, energy, and help in the country’s development.
But is there a tentative time frame?
That depends. If you look at the various commissions or committees appointed in the past (for various objectives), many took a longer period, some gave their reports within the set time frame. So depending on the committee’s meeting and the inputs received from various political parties or the stakeholders, they may come out with a report. I am not able to comment beyond that.