New Delhi: Speaking on the issue of simultaneous polls, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said on Friday political consensus and not political brinkmanship was needed to make it a reality.
“If there is political consensus, the commission will do the needful. Some amendments are required but it requires political consensus and not political brinkmanship,” said Arora.
Suggesting that the demand for simultaneous polls has not come only from political quarters, the CEC said even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi had talked about ‘One Nation One Poll’, it was the country’s (former) President (Pranab Mukherjee) who had raised this issue in his speech.
He said initially the cycle of Parliament and assemblies were in sync and it was only since 1967 that disbalances started appearing due to various reasons.
Responding to a question on the Jharkhand Assembly polls being conducted in five phases, the CEC said it was held the same way in 2009 and 2014. "The availability of security forces also has to be kept in mind while scheduling elections. There are 90 districts in Jharkhand of which 61 are affected by Left Wing Extremism, 19 are categorised as 'extreme' and 13 districts as 'very extreme'. So adequate arrangements had to be made.”
He said if the Delhi chief minister wanted elections to be done tomorrow, the commission would do it. “If the Delhi CM says we want elections immediately, we'll do it, because the commitment of the forces will be far less... Look at what happened in Telangana when the CM announced early dissolution of the Assembly. Without waiting for a detailed election plan, we ordered the code of conduct to kick in immediately,” he said.
The CEC has constantly been expressing his views about the need for a political consensus to emerge on the issue of simultaneous polls for the commission to take any serious step on the issue.
In September, the CEC, while responding to the same question, had said the debate on the subject hadn't been settled yet. “Unless there is a consensus among the parties, it can't be taken as given,” he had said.
‘One Nation One Poll’ or ‘simultaneous elections’ has been the preferred theme of the top BJP leadership. It first found mention in the party’s 2014 manifesto and was later voiced by both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party’s national president and Home Minister Amit Shah.
In June, shortly after assuming the PM's chair for the second time, Modi invited all parties to hold a discussion on it. He had floated the idea during his previous term as well. But then it had run into rough weather following its criticism by former election commissioners.
Former election commissioners, such as TS Krishnamurthy, are of the opinion that a lot of administrative arrangements, including increasing the strength of paramilitary forces for poll duties, might be required for holding simultaneous polls.
Though Krishnamurthy too was of the opinion that the idea has several advantages, he said it would not be possible without necessary constitutional amendments.
In August last year, the then CEC, OP Rawat, had also talked about the need to make constitutional amendments in order to implement the idea, but when asked if it was likely to be implemented in the near future, he had said, "Koi chance nahi (no chance at all)."