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One Election, One Year Can be Alternative to Simultaneous Polls, Says CEC OP Rawat

Rawat said conducting simultaneous polls would require the deployment of more manpower, especially security forces.

Updated:August 11, 2018, 12:53 PM IST
New Delhi: The Election Commission has proposed holding one election a year as an alternative to simultaneous polls, a proposal being pushed by the government.

Chief election commissioner (CEC) Om Prakash Rawat told CNBC-Awaaz's editor Alok Joshi in an exclusive interview that conducting simultaneous polls would require the deployment of more manpower, especially security forces.

Rawat earlier too had a word of caution against simultaneous polls when he said the legal framework required for holding the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections together would take a long time to get ready. “We cannot put the cart before the horse. Logistical issues are subservient to legal framework. Unless legal framework is in place, we don't have to talk about anything else because legal framework will take a lot of time, making constitutional amendment to (changing) the law, all the process will take time,” he had said.

Rawat also said social media platforms would be asked to not run any poll-related news 48 hours before the elections. He said the idea would be implemented on a trial basis in the assembly polls in three states before being adopted for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The CEC reiterated that VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines were safe and had reinforced faith in Electronic Voting Machines (EVM).

Rawat had recently dismissed allegations that VVPATs could click pictures of people while they were casting votes. “Beware of the warning that asks an elector to vote for a particular candidate, stating ‘you have taken money and can’t fool us as the paper trail machine clicks your picture casting vote’,” he had said, adding that the commission would launch an awareness drive to send the message across that paper trail machines do not violate secrecy at the polling booth.

Rawat also rubbished claims that those excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam did not have the right to vote.

The statement assumes significance in the light of recent remarks made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah, who had said people who could not prove their citizenship had no right to participate in elections.

Speaking to News18, Shah had said, “Forty lakh infiltrators have entered our country illegally. They have no right to remain in the country...We will give all of them opportunity to prove their citizenship but those who are unable to do so have no right to participate in the democratic processes of the country. He added that those who are found to be living in the country illegally will not be deported.

The publication of the final draft of the NRC had led to bitter debates over the exclusion of several people, with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee accusing the BJP of playing politics over the issue.

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