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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Can’t hold simultaneous polls without legal framework, says election commission chief

Chief election commissioner OP Rawat said a constitutional amendment will be required to carry out simultaneous national and state elections.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2018 22:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The CEC said the poll panel would continue to deliver its responsibility of conducting elections whenever term of the state assemblies come to an end.
The CEC said the poll panel would continue to deliver its responsibility of conducting elections whenever term of the state assemblies come to an end.(Arijit Sen/HT File Photo)

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), OP Rawat, on Tuesday said simultaneous elections are not possible without a legal framework as any extension or curtailment of the term of assemblies will require a constitutional amendment.

“Logistics arrangements with regard to 100% availability of VVPATs (paper trail machines) will be a constraint,” he told reporters, virtually ruling out the possibility of holding simultaneous polls in the immediate future.

The remarks came a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reiterated that it was in favour of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls together. However, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra clarified that there was no mention of simultaneous polls in 11 states in party chief Amit Shah’s letter to the law commission. He, however, maintained that the BJP supports the idea of one nation, one election.

Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) president, Nitish Kumar, on Tuesday said the one nation, one election is “theoretically correct but viably impossible option.

“On the one nation, one poll issue, the Election Commission had given inputs and suggestions in 2015 itself... The other requirements are additional police force and polling personnel,” Rawat said.

He said the commission will continue to deliver on its responsibility of conducting elections whenever the term of a state assembly comes to an end.

While the BJP, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Samajwadi Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi have supported the idea, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Telugu Desam Party, Left parties and the Janata Dal (Secular) have opposed it.

But on Tuesday, the Congress dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dissolve the Lok Sabha and announce general elections along with polls in four states later this year.

Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot said: “There is only one way of holding simultaneous elections. The Prime Minister should dissolve the Lok Sabha and hold polls along with the four state assembly elections,” Gehlot said at a press conference. Mizoram, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh go to polls this year.

“The Congress will welcome it. We are prepared,” he said.

However, Gehlot questioned the BJP’s intention behind the idea: “Their approach from day one has been wrong. If they were serious, they would have called an all-party meeting, discussed ways to implement the proposal and debated solutions for cases where the Lok Sabha or state assemblies are dissolved before their term. But the government did not do any such thing.”

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 15:40 IST

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