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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

‘No chance at all’: Chief Election Commissioner on Lok Sabha and Assembly polls being held together

The Bharatiya Janata Party has said it was in favour of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls, but key opposition parties have opposed the idea.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2018 23:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
The election commission had earlier said it would need 24 lakh EVMs in case of simultaneous polls in 2019.
The election commission had earlier said it would need 24 lakh EVMs in case of simultaneous polls in 2019.(HT File Photo)

Chief election commissioner Om Prakash Rawat Thursday once again ruled out the possibility of holding simultaneous elections to state assemblies and the Lok Sabha anytime soon, reiterating that a legal framework is required to be put in place.

“Koi chance nahi (no chance at all),” Rawat emphatically said at a media interaction in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, when asked if it was feasible to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections in the near future.

The remarks came amid debate over the move following an assertion from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that it was in favour of holding Lok Sabha and assembly elections together.

The poll watchdog had earlier maintained that any extension or curtailment of the term of assemblies will require a constitutional amendment besides the logistics arrangements with regard to 100% availability of VVPATs (paper trail machines) will also be a constraint. “MPs will take at least a year to frame a law that can be enforceable. As soon as the bill to amend the Constitution is ready, we will know that things are now moving,” Rawat said.

Apart from 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 but the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Telugu Desam Party, the Left Front parties, and the Janata Dal (Secular) are opposed to it.

The Congress had even dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dissolve the Lok Sabha and announce general elections along with polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram due later this year.

The Election Commission, he said, starts preparations for the general elections 14 months before the time frame. “The commission has a staff strength of just 400 but deploys 1.11 crore people on poll duty during elections.”

On complaints of “failure” of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), Rawat said the understanding of the system was not “comprehensive enough”.

“There is just a 0.5-0.6% rate of failure and such a rate of machine failure is acceptable,” he said.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 18:06 IST