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Why BJP is praying for a poll delay in UP

By Archis Mohan
December 17, 2016 09:11 IST
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Many in the BJP believe that postponing the UP elections even by a month will allow the negative perception against demonetisation to dissipate.
Archis Mohan reports.

The Election Commission of India is set to announce the schedule for assembly polls in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, by the first week of January.

The elections are likely to be in February-March. But the disquiet within the Bharatiya Janata Party that the 'note ban' is likely to negatively impact its chances in Uttar Pradesh has awakened the Narendra Modi government to the possibility that elections to the key state could be staggered to later in the year.

Apart from UP, the other four states slated to go to polls are Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

UP aside, the terms of the current assemblies of the rest of the four states expire from mid to end March.

The term of the UP assembly ends in May-end.

This offers the possibility that elections to the UP assembly, the largest in terms of the number of seats in the country, could be postponed.

Elections to the UP assembly are usually held in seven phases.

Determining the poll schedule is the purview of ECI, a Constitutional authority, and it cannot be dictated to in this by the government.

Apart from the date of expiry of the terms of assemblies, other factors that the ECI takes into account while determining poll dates are weather conditions, school board exam schedules and the law and order situation in poll-bound states.

Crucially, the ECI needs to rely on the Union government for the availability of central paramilitary forces to be deployed in poll-bound states.

In 2012, elections to the UP assembly were held in February-March. The government was constituted on March 8, but the first sitting of the assembly took place on May 28.

This was also the case in 2002 and 2007 when the governments were constituted in mid-March, but the first sitting of the assembly was held in mid-May.

According to sources, many in the BJP are of the view that it could suit the party if the elections to UP assembly could be postponed, even by a month, to allow the negative perception against demonetisation to dissipate, and give the Modi government more time to change the discourse by announcing schemes for the poor and farmers.

The ECI, however, has already written to five states to schedule the dates of the school board examinations, usually held in February-March, in consultation with the poll panel.

The Union government cannot declare any new schemes for poll-bound states after the ECI announces poll dates and coming in force of the model code of conduct.

The only exception to this is the Union Budget as it is a Constitutional exercise. The Budget is slated to be presented on February 1.

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Archis Mohan
Source: source
 
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