New Delhi: Amid a country-wide debate on the benefits of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, the Election Commission on Thursday ruled out any such possibility, saying no legal framework exists to make it happen.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah have made a strong pitch for holding simultaneous polls, the Opposition has rallied against such a move. Mr Shah had also written to the Law Commission in favour of holding simultaneous polls.
The Congress party had, on the other hand, said that simultaneous polls are not possible without a constitutional amendment and the present government had no mandate for that.
On Thursday at a press meet in Aurangabad, chief election commissioner O.P. Rawat emphatically ruled out the possibility of simultaneous elections. Mr Rawat said that a legal framework is needed to be in place for holding simultaneous polls.
“Koi chance nahi” (no chance at all),” the CEC said when asked if it was feasible to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections in the near future.
”The lawmakers will take at least a year to frame a law that can be enforceable. This process takes time. As soon as the bill to amend the Constitution is ready, we (the Election Commission) will know that things are now moving),” Mr Rawat said.
There has been some speculation in the recent weeks that Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram that are due this year-end may be deferred and held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha elections in April next year.
The term of the Mizoram Assembly ends on December 15, while the terms of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assemblies end on January 5, January 7 and January 20, 2019, respectively.
Congress sources had earlier indicated that the party would go to court if the three were put under President’s Rule when the term of their Assemblies were over and polls were held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.
Explaining the process, Mr Rawat said the EC commences preparations for the Lok Sabha elections 14 months before the scheduled timeframe of polling.
The Commission has a staff strength of just 400 but deploys 1.11 crore people on poll duty during elections,” Mr Rawat said.