Will be ready to hold simultaneous polls by next year: EC

Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said the Modi government is looking for an escape route now

The Election Commission will be ready to hold simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha and all state assemblies by the end of next year when it will have all the logistics ready, Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat has said.

However, the opposition was not impressed with the idea of simultaneous polls while two former Chief Election Commissioners supported it saying the EC was fully capable of the exercise.

“A lot of things depend on the logistics. As of now, we do not have that many EVMs as are required. But the government has already sanctioned the money to the Election Commission and we have placed the orders (for EVMs and VVPAT machines) to the manufacturers,” Rawat said in Bhopal.

“In fact we have started receiving the machines and will get all the deliveries by September 2018. After that we will be able to hold simultaneous elections,” Rawat said.

He added that the constitutional amendment needed for the exercise is not the EC’s concern and will have to be taken care of by the government.

Supporting Rawat’s stand, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi said that the poll panel is capable of holding simultaneous polls if it has all the logistics.

“Usually, elections to at least four-five state assemblies are held along with the Lok Sabha polls. So to make it 10 states or 25 states is easy enough because the arrangements are the same, machinery is the same, security arrangements are the same. All we need is double the number of EVMs and VVPATs,” Quraishi said.

Another former CEC, N. Gopalaswami said the real issue is not whether EC can do it or not, but whether the terms of various state assemblies can be synchronised.

“The issue is whether simultaneous elections can be held. It depends on the provision of the law. The terms of different legislatures ends at different points of time. So if they can be synchronised through a provision of law is an issue. That is the issue, and not whether EC can do it or not,” Gopalaswami said.

However, political opponents were not amused by the proposal.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashutosh said that the idea will “kill” Indian diversity.

“Holding assembly elections along with Lok Sabha elections will be killing India’s diversity. It is not a financial issue. Though they (government) claim that money will be saved (by holding simultaneous polls) but the amount saved would not be much…you can calculate. It is important to protect India’s democracy,” Ashutosh said.

Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said the Modi government is looking for an escape route now.

“Modiji is hassled now at the way things are on the economic and political fronts. Now there is a mess, they are now trying to find an escape route by holding elections early,” Ahmed said.



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