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Nitish fine with concurrent Lok Sabha, state polls but rules out Bihar election in 2019

Assembly polls in Bihar are due in 2020 but a remark last week by Bihar JD (U) chief Basistha Narayan Singh had set off speculation the ruling party may prefer elections a year earlier, to coincide with the 2019 LS poll.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2017 19:07 IST
Anil Kumar
Anil Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar CM,Nitish Kumar,Lok Sabha poll
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar talking to reporters in Patna on Monday. (Santosh/HT photo)

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, on Monday, expressed his ‘in principle’ agreement withprime minister Narendra Modi’s idea of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls, but ruled out pre-mature assembly election in Bihar, along with the Lok Sabha general elections, in 2019.

Assembly elections in Bihar are due in September-October 2020. However, a remark by Bihar JD (U) president Basistha Narayan Singh had set off speculation that the ruling JD (U) may prefer to hold the elections a year earlier, to coincide with the 2019 LS poll.

Backing Centre’s ‘one nation one election’ idea, Singh had, on Tuesday, said that the party was okay with the idea and was ready for snap polls in 2019 to implement the idea of holding synchronised elections in the country.

“It is a good idea. I approve the idea of holding simultaneous elections for all constitutional bodies, right from Lok Sabha, assembly, local bodies and panchayats,” he said, while pointing out that the roll out of Niti Ayog’s suggestion, to ensure minimum campaign-mode disruption to governance, was to start from 2024.

“But a section of the media started interpreting the state JD (U) president’s remark to mean that the party was gearing up for a snap poll in 2019 itself,” the chief minister said, in response to a question whether the state was heading towards a pre-mature election.

The chief minister said the idea of simultaneous elections was not a new one.”Separate elections started taking place in the country only after 1967. Once simultaneous polls become the norm, it will save expenses, provide ruling party adequate time to perform and go to the voters for seeking mandate on the basis of its work, he said.

Kumar, however, had a rider. “There should be an inbuilt mechanism for ensuring the completion of the five-year tenure of a state government so that it gets adequate time to deliver upon the people’[s expectations,” he said.

Though Kumar tried to put all speculation to rest, the JD (U) state president’s remark had the requisite ammunition to fire the popular imagination. Sources said having the JD (U) on board for vigorously pursuing the ‘idea’ was one of the key points for the BJP to warm up to the JD (U), which had supported demonetisation, the army’[s surgical strike and NDA’s presidential candidate.

Now, with the BJP, unfolding its mission 350 (winning 350 seats in the Lok Sabha in 2019), the JD (U) leadership is only too aware that it will enjoy a ‘equal partner status’ only till 2019 LS poll outcome.

Once the saffron-brigade is anywhere near its target-mark, it will not allow regional allies to extract a fair share of seats during 2020 assembly elections. In that case, the sealing the deal in 2019 for centre and state elections seems to a plausible proposition.

First Published: Sep 18, 2017 19:07 IST