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Election Commission virtually rules out simultaneous elections

NEW DELHI, AUG 14 (IANS) | Publish Date: 8/14/2018 12:18:39 PM IST

In the midst of the BJP’s push for “One Nation, One Poll”, the Election Commission on Tuesday appeared to rule out simultaneous polls to assemblies and the Lok Sabha given the present logistics and constitutional provisions. Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said, however, the commission would continue to deliver its responsibility of conducting polls whenever the term of a state assembly comes to an end.

“On the issue of One Nation, One Poll, the commission had given inputs and suggestions in 2015 itself. Logistics arrangements with reference to 100 per cent availability of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPATs) will be a constraint,” Rawat told the media.

He also said if the term of some state assembly needed to be curtailed or extended then a constitutional amendment would be required. Other requirements of additional police force and polling personnel was also needed.

“The commission will continue to deliver its responsibility of conducting elections whenever the term of state assembly comes to an end,” Rawat said.

The Chief Election Commissioner’s remarks come amidst the push by the BJP for simultaneous parliament and assembly elections over which the party President, Amit Shah, wrote a letter to the Law Commission on Monday.

There was speculation that the ruling party could aim at limited simultaneous polls by either advancing the Lok Sabha polls along with assembly polls in states like Maharashtra and combine them with elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh later this year.

Or in the alternative, the year-end polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram could be postponed till the Lok Sabha polls next year.

Congress dares PM to dissolve LS

Amid talks of simultaneous polls, the Congress has dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dissolve the Lok Sabha early and announce general elections along with polls in four states where the terms of the assemblies end this year.

Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot Tuesday said postponing the upcoming state assembly elections and conducting these with Lok Sabha polls in 2019 is “not possible” under the Constitution or the law.

He said elections in Mizoram, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will have to be conducted before the terms of these assemblies end.

“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 told a press conference.

Gehlot said the ‘one nation, one election’ slogan is just a gimmick to deflect attention of people from government’s failures.

On the other hand, Congress legal cell head Vivek Takha said the party will move court if the government attempts to postpone upcoming state assembly elections. “This cannot be done without a constitutional amendment,” he said.

 

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