Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat on Wednesday said the poll body is capable of holding General Elections and polls to four states together in December. He told PTI that this will be possible if the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are advanced.
On Tuesday, Rawat said it was not possible to hold simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections without a legal framework to allow them. His statement came a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party pushed for simultaneous elections and called for a “healthy and open debate” among stakeholders.
“Why not? There would not be any problem,” Rawat said on Wednesday when asked if the Election Commission was ready if elections are held in December along with Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Rajasthan.
The term of the Mizoram Assembly ends on December 15, while the terms of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assemblies will end on January 5, 2019, January 7, 2019 and January 20, 2019. The General Elections are scheduled for April 2019-May 2019.
The Election Commission is currently procuring new Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, all of which are expected to be delivered by the end of November.
In April, the Law Commission of India had recommended that elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies be held simultaneously. In a draft white paper, the commission said the Indian Constitution could be amended to allow simultaneous polls. In May, the Election Commission also proposed the idea of “one year, one election” to the Law Commission.
On July 8, the Law Commission held consultations with political parties on the proposal for simultaneous elections. The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party had skipped the meeting.
On August 4, the Congress said the proposal was against federalism, and said it is “unconstitutional, undemocratic and forbidden by law”. Earlier, the party had described the proposal as a “constitutional perversity”.
On August 13, the BJP wrote to the Law Commission in support of the idea, and claimed that criticism against the idea of simultaneous national and state elections in India is “politically motivated and inappropriate”.