New Delhi: The Centre is keen on holding elections in 11 states along with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have said, adding that the government would not require a constitutional amendment to bring about the change.
Sources said the party was exploring the possibility of deferring assembly elections of some states by a few months and advancing some others to ensure they are held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.
The reports came just hours after BJP chief Amit Shah wrote a letter to the Law Commission on Monday, batting for one nation, one poll to ensure that the country is not in “election mode” throughout the year. Shah shot off the letter two days after the Election Commission proposed holding one election a year as an alternative to simultaneous polls.
Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand are slated for elections towards the end of next year, while Bihar will vote in 2020. Party sources said since the JD(U) supported the BJP’s call for simultaneous polls, it would not be difficult for the state to agree to the proposal.
They added that elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan — which are slated for later this year — could be clubbed with polls in Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram and Odisha to be held with the 2019 general elections. The government could soon call an all-party meeting on the issue.
There is a view within the BJP that holding assembly elections of as many states as possible with the Lok Sabha polls will be a positive plank in its favour as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly emphasised his support to the idea. Modi had called for a “widespread” debate on holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies and said if implemented, it would result in savings.
By clubbing assembly elections in states ruled mostly by the BJP, the party would send a message that it means business, its leaders said. This would also help the party counter the anti-incumbency factor in states ruled by it.
The NITI Aayog had last year suggested synchronised, two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly polls from 2024. The Law Commission's draft paper titled ‘Simultaneous Elections - Constitutional and Legal Perspectives’ has recommended amendments to the Constitution and the Representation of People's Act, 1950 to facilitate and sustain the concept of simultaneous polls.
The Congress, on its part, has called the idea "misplaced". The Trinamool Congress and the CPI have not shown great enthusiasm too, calling it a step against the federal structure of the Constitution. However, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav welcomed the Prime Minister’s proposal for holding simultaneous elections.
(With PTI inputs)