Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Tuesday that holding simultaneous national and state elections was a good idea but it cannot be implemented during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The remarks came a day after his party’s alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party supported the idea in a letter to the Law Commission.

“Holding simultaneous polls for all state assemblies and the Lok Sabha would not be possible in the next general elections,” PTI quoted him as saying. “It is a good idea but the time is not yet ripe for its implementation.”

In a letter on Monday, BJP President Amit Shah had told the Law Commission that the criticism against the idea of simultaneous national and state elections in the country was “politically motivated and inappropriate”. He had also suggested ways to start the process and solve related challenges. On Tuesday however, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said it was not possible to hold simultaneous elections without a legal framework allowing them.

Kumar, who heads the Janata Dal (United), has made his support for simultaneous polls known, saying it would reduce the cost involved in holding elections. He said it would also enable elected governments to focus better on development and governance, according to PTI.

The JD(U) has headed a coalition government with the BJP in Bihar since August 2017.

Congress dares PM to hold early polls

Meanwhile, the Congress on Tuesday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dissolve the Lok Sabha and announce general elections along with Assembly polls in four states later this year, reported PTI.

“There is only one way of holding simultaneous elections,” said Congress General Secretary Ashok Gehlot. “The prime minister should dissolve the Lok Sabha and hold polls along with the four state Assembly elections.” He said that it would be in the “best interest of the country to dissolve the Lok Sabha early, given the all-pervasive atmosphere of fear, intolerance and intimidation”.

“The Congress will not only welcome an early Lok Sabha election, we are all geared to fight the BJP and eliminate it,” he said.

Under the Constitution or the law, it was “not possible” to postpone the upcoming state Assembly elections in Mizoram, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, and conduct them with the Lok Sabha polls, said Gehlot.

Gehlot further said that the BJP’s approach to simultaneous elections was a wrong one. “If they were serious, they would have called all political parties for a meeting, discussed ways and means of implementing a proposal and debated solutions for cases where the Lok Sabha or state Assemblies are dissolved before their term,” he said. “But the government did not do any such thing.”