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Order VVPATs Within 2 Months for Elections in 11 States With 2019 Lok Sabha Polls: CEC OP Rawat

Sources said the BJP 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.

Neeraj Kumar | News18.com

Updated:August 14, 2018, 4:02 PM IST
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New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat on Tuesday said that if government wants elections to 11 states to be held along with 2019 Lok Sabha polls, then a decision on ordering more VVPAT machines will have to be taken in a month or two. The CEC said currently the Commission does not have enough machines to conduct such a massive exercise.

"There are not enough VVPAT machines to conduct 11 state elections simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls in 2019. If such a thing is to be attempted, more VVPAT machines will have to be ordered and a decision in this regard will have to be taken in a month or two," said CEC OP Rawat.

The CEC comment comes just a day after the BJP floated the idea of holding elections in 11 states along with 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In an interview to News18, SK Mendiratta, EC’s legal veteran had also said much the same regarding shortage of VVPAT machines.

"With present EVM and VVPAT machines, simultaneous polls cannot be held and it would take at least three years for the commission to procure required number of machines,” Mendiratta had said.

Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand are slated for elections towards the end of next year, while Bihar will vote in 2020. BJP 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.

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, said sources. The government could soon call an all-party meeting on the issue

There is a view within the BJP that holding Assembly elections to as many states as possible with the Lok Sabha polls will be a positive move 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.

Earlier, the Election Commission had proposed holding one election a year as an alternative to simultaneous polls, a proposal being pushed by the government.

On Monday, BJP president Amit Shah wrote to Law Commission batting for one nation, one poll to ensure that the nation is not in "election mode" throughout the year.

In his letter, Shah said the claim that holding two sets of polls was against the federal structure of the country is a "baseless" argument. On the contrary, he said, it would strengthen the federal structure of the country.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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