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'Koi Chance Nahi': CEC OP Rawat on Simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections

There has been some speculation in the recent weeks that Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram due this year end may be deferred and held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for April-May 2019.

News18.com

Updated:August 24, 2018, 10:34 AM IST
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Aurangabad: Putting to rest all speculation, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat on Thursday emphatically ruled out the possibility of holding simultaneous elections to the state assemblies along with the Lok Sabha polls without a "legal framework" in place.

"Koi chance nahi" (no chance at all), Rawat told a select media meet in Aurangabad when asked if it was still feasible to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections.

There has been some speculation in the recent weeks that Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram due this year end may be deferred and held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for April-May 2019.

While the term of the Mizoram Assembly ends on December 15, the terms of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assemblies will end on January 5, January 7 and January 20, 2019, respectively.

"The lawmakers will take at least a year to frame a law that can be enforceable. This process takes time. As soon as the Bill to amend the Constitution is ready, we (the Election Commission) will know that things are now moving)," Rawat said.

The Election Commission commences preparations for the Lok Sabha elections 14 months before the scheduled timeframe of polling, Rawat said. "The Commission has a staff strength of just 400 but deploys 1.11 crore people on poll duty during elections," he said.

The CEC's rejection of the proposal comes after a huge push by the ruling BJP for one nation, one poll. Earlier this month, party chief Amit Shah had written to the Law Commission expressing support for the idea and said any opposition to it seems to be politically motivated.

The BJP contends that holding polls at the national and state levels together will cut down on the cost of holding the elections. A paper by the Law Commission had recently recommended holding the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in two phases from 2019.

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.

Rawat had recently told News18 that instead of simultaneous polls, a more feasible alternative would be to hold one election a year.

Replying to another query, Rawat said the Election Commission enjoys full autonomy as can be seen from the manner in which poll officials didn't budge under political pressure in the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat last year.

The Congress had then said two of its MLAs had cross-voted and showed their ballot papers to BJP president Amit Shah. The EC ruled in Congress' favour, declaring that the two MLAs had violated polling procedures and secrecy of the ballot.

| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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