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BJP considering holding simultaneous polls in 11 states in 2019: Sources

Last updated on: August 13, 2018 22:33 IST

BJP president Amit Shah has come out in support of holding Lok Sabha and assembly polls simultaneously, saying it will check government expenditure and ensure the nation is not in "election mode" throughout the year.

In a bid to underline its commitment to simultaneous polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party is mulling holding assembly elections in 10-11 states along with the Lok Sabha polls, which are scheduled in the first half of next year,

A top party leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they are exploring the possibility of deferring assembly elections of some states by a few months and advancing some others to ensure they are held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.

 

The tenure of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh assemblies will expire in January next year and the governments of these BJP-ruled states may recommend a brief spell of governor's rule so that assembly elections there could be held with the Lok Sabha polls, he said.

The tenure of the assembly in the Congress-ruled Mizoram is ending in December this year.

Former Lok Sabha secretary general and constitutional expert P D T Acharya questioned the legal validity of imposing the governor's rule in states where assembly elections are due before the Lok Sabha polls.

The governor's rule can be imposed only in case of constitutional breakdown, he said.

The source said other states where assembly polls can be advanced to enable it to be held with the Lok Sabha polls are Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, all under the BJP's rule.

Assembly elections in these three states are also scheduled next year following the Lok Sabha polls.

The Lok Sabha elections in 2014 were held in April-May.

The source said assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana are anyway scheduled to be held with the Parliamentary polls.

Another state where talks of advancing assembly elections are doing the rounds is Bihar, where they are due in 2020 end.

The BJP is a junior partner in the state government led by Janata Dal-United's Nitish Kumar.

The JD-U has in public pooh-poohed the suggestion that the state elections be held with the Lok Sabha polls but many political watchers believe that it may suit Kumar as well.

This is because he may like to ensure his party gets to contest lion's share of assembly seats while the BJP fights more Lok Sabha seats.

There is a view within the BJP that holding assembly elections of as many states as possible with the Lok Sabha polls will be a positive plank in its favour as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly emphasised his support to the idea.

With the opposition parties like the Congress being against the idea, the government is not in a position to effect the constitutional amendment that the exercise of holding assembly and Lok Sabha polls simultaneously would require.

By clubbing assembly elections in states ruled mostly by the BJP, the party would send a message that it means business, its leaders said.

This would also help the party counter the anti-incumbency factor in states ruled by it.

BJP president Amit Shah had on Monday written to the law commission stating his party was in favour of simultaneous elections, saying it would curb expenditure and ensure the nation is not in "election mode" throughout the year.

In a letter, Shah said holding simultaneous polls is not only a concept, but also a principle which can be implemented.

Shah said two sets of polls will strengthen the federal structure of the country. He told the panel that during elections the Model Code of Conduct is in force which adversely impacts development works and policy decisions.

Shah maintained that there is no relation between Lok Sabha and assembly elections. He pointed out that Prime Minster Narendra Nodi, President Ram Nath Kovind and former President Pranab Mukherjee have all supported the idea of 'one nation, one poll'.

For the best-possible legal framework, there is a need for an "open, free and frank" debate among parties and stakeholders, he wrote.

Shah's letter to the law panel was handed over by a BJP delegation which met the commission top brass.

In his eight-page letter, the Bharatiya Janata Party chief said the opposition to simultaneous polls seems to be politically motivated.

The law panel, which is examining the feasibility of holding simultaneous polls, had earlier sought the views of political parties before finalising its report. Both the BJP and Congress had stayed away from the consultation organised by the commission.

The Congress had met the commission top brass recently where it had opposed the concept of simultaneous polls.

A paper by the law commission had recently recommended holding the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in two phases beginning 2019.

Political parties are divided on the issue.

Besides National Democratic Alliance ally Shiromani Akali Dal, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Samajwadi Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti have supported it.

The Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Telugu Desam Party, Left parties and the Janata Dal-Secular have opposed the proposal.

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