Lucknow, June 19:

BSP chief Mayawati Wednesday said holding simultaneous national and state elections “appears to be an undemocratic and unconstitutional” idea for a vast country like India as she declined to attend an all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

She said that elections in any democracy can never be a problem “nor elections should be weighed from the point of view of expenditure and extravagance”.

‘One nation, one election’ is not an issue before the country, she said. “Elections through ballot papers are actually the national issue and our party will continue its struggle for it.”

The BSP president said it was a new drama of the BJP to divert attention from the concerns over “attempts to hijack” democracy through alleged irregularities in the working of electronic voting machine (EVMs).

“Even the idea of one nation, one election for the world’s biggest democracy like India, prima facie, appears to be undemocratic and unconstitutional,” she said in a party release issued here, asking the BJP to desist from works and mentality that harm constitution and democracy.

Mayawati said she would have attended the all-party meeting called by the prime minister if it was to address a “national concern” over EVMs. She described the idea of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls as a ploy to divert attention from issues like poverty.

Mayawati’s comments come on the day an all-party meeting has been convened by Modi to discuss several issues, including the idea of “one nation, one election”, celebration of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year and 75 years of Independence in 2022.

The BSP chief alleged that the people’s faith in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) had dwindled to a “worrisome level”.

“The stubbornness of conducting elections through electronic voting machines instead of ballot paper is the real threat to the democracy and Constitution of the country.

“The ‘one nation, one election’ is in fact an attempt to divert the attention from burning national issues such as poverty, inflation, unemployment and increase in violence, and is simply an illusion.”

The “one nation, one election”, a part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha election manifesto, has made the Opposition wary of the prospects.

In August last year, the Law Commission had recommended holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies to save public money.

In its draft recommendations, the commission had said simultaneous polls, with an exception of Jammu and Kashmir, would help the government of the day focus on “developmental activities rather than electioneering”.

It, however, cautioned that holding simultaneous elections was not possible within the existing framework of the Constitution.

After Modi addressed a NITI Aayog meeting last week, an official release said, “The Prime Minister called for widespread debate and consultations on simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas, keeping in view various aspects such as the resulting financial savings and consequent better utilisation of resources.”

The Niti Aayog had last year suggested synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and Assembly polls from 2024 to ensure minimum campaign-mode disruption to governance.