Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat on Thursday ruled out the possibility of conducting the Lok Sabha elections and Assembly polls simultaneously anytime soon, PTI reported. Rawat said there was “no chance at all” that the two voting exercises could be executed at the same time without a legal framework in place.
The poll panel chief was speaking to reporters in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district. “The lawmakers will take at least a year to frame a law that can be enforceable,” Rawat said while responding to queries on the matter. “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.”
On August 15, Rawat said the poll body was capable of holding the upcoming General Elections and polls to four states together in December. He told PTI that this would be possible if the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are advanced.
However, a day before that, the chief election commissioner had said it was not possible to hold simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections without a legal framework in place. He made these remarks a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party pushed for simultaneous elections and called for a “healthy and open debate” among stakeholders.
The term of the Mizoram Assembly ends on December 15, while the terms of the Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assemblies will end on January 5, 2019, January 7, 2019 and January 20, 2019. The General Elections are expected to be held between April 2019 and 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.
Rawat also dismissed concerns about flaws in the electronic voting machines. “There is just a 0.5 to 0.6% rate of failure and such a rate of machine failure is acceptable,” Rawat told the reporters. The poll panel’s chief said the understanding about the electronic voting machine system was not “comprehensive enough” in many quarters of the country.
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”.