CEC virtually rules out LS polls with 11 Assemblies, BJP says no such move

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New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The BJP’s push for “One Nation, One Poll” fuelled a major debate on Tuesday with the Election Commission appearing to rule out simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and 11 assemblies in the near future and the BJP dismissing such a possibility while the Congress said the BJP was planning to delay the elections fearing defeat.

A day after BJP President Amit Shah pushed for simultaneous polls with the Law Commission, Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said: “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.”

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.

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However, he said, the Commission would continue to deliver its responsibility of conducting polls whenever the term of a state assembly ends.

On Tuesday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra ruled out any plans of the BJP to hold simultaneous polls and denied that Shah had mooted any proposal to hold elections in 11 states along with Lok Sabha elections of 2019.

“From this table, the BJP rejects any such misconception. Any such misplaced conceptions should not find a place anywhere,” he told the media after news reports claimed that the party was planning to hold simultaneous balloting to the Lok Sabha and 11 assemblies by delaying polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where they are due this year end.

“Nowhere has our national President said in this letter that elections to 11 state assemblies be held along with the next Lok Sabha elections. Please read it carefully,” Patra said.

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“The letter speaks about ‘one nation, one poll’ as an idea which should be discussed and debated. Many institutions like the Election Commission and Niti Aayog have expressed positive opinions on this matter and said that consensus should be built on the issue.”

However, the Congress smelled a rat in the BJP’s pitch for simultaneous polls and warned that it would move the court if the government tried to defer elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

“Simultaneous elections are not possible without an amendment in the Constitution. There is only one way to have the elections together and that is Modiji should dissolve the Lok Sabha to advance general elections. We will welcome it,” Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said.

Congress Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha said his party suspected that the government was trying to defer elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where the surveys were projecting that the ruling BJP was losing.

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–IANS

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