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Step towards simultaneous polls: BJP looks to hold elections in 11 states along with 2019 Lok Sabha poll

The president of the Bharatiya Janata Party has written to the Law Commission in support of the simultaneous elections in the country. Reportedly, the BJP and other parties of the NDA coalition are likely to support the idea of ‘One Nation-One Poll’ and hopeful of simultaneous polls in at least 11 states along with the general elections in 2019

The Narendra government is positive about holding simultaneous elections in the country and several leaders including the PM and the President, have called for a wider debate on the issue. Amit Shah on Monday wrote to the Law Commission saying, “There is a need for a regular discourse on the simultaneous elections and all political parties need to come together on the matter.”

Amit Shah further said that the idea of ‘One Nation- One Poll’ is beneficial for parliamentary policies. He added that due to the election in one state or another throughout the year, work of both the state and central government gets affected. He emphasized the fact that the simultaneous elections will lead to cutting down on electoral expenditure.

The BJP is looking to conduct simultaneous elections of eleven state assemblies, which are otherwise to be held within a time frame of 6 to 12 months. Reportedly, the party is 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.

If everything goes as per the government’s plan, the Lok Sabha election in 2019 may turn out to be a mini showcase of simultaneous elections, with a few variables. There are few states slated to go into polls around the time of Lok Sabha general elections. These states are:

  1. Andhra Pradesh goes to poll tentatively on 18.06.2019
  2. Odisha goes to poll tentatively on 11.06.2019
  3. Sikkim goes to poll tentatively on 27.05.2019
  4. Telangana goes to poll tentatively on 08.06.2019

There are four other states whose elections if postponed for 6 or lesser, can also be conducted simultaneously:

  1. Rajasthan goes to poll tentatively on 20.01.2019.
  2. Madhya Pradesh goes to poll tentatively on 07.01.2019.
  3. Mizoram goes to poll tentatively on 15.12.2018.
  4. Chattisgarh goes to poll tentatively on 05.01.2019.

There are another three states whose elections, if brought forward for six or lesser, can be conducted simultaneously:

  1. Haryana goes to poll tentatively on 02.11.2019.
  2. Jharkhand goes to poll tentatively on 05.01.2020.
  3. Maharashtra goes to poll tentatively on 09.11.2019.

Along with this, there is also a possibility of states like Bihar, Goa and Tamil Nadu facing early elections, while fresh elections to Jammu and Kashmir may also take place during the general elections. The BJP has influence in all the four states and may push for simultaneous elections in all these states.

There is also no need of any constitutional amendment to implement ‘One Nation-One Poll’. The NDA government at the centre is looking for a larger consensus for simultaneous elections and the party is thinking of calling an all-party meeting over this issue soon. Some regional parties like Samajwadi Party (SP) and Telangana’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) have backed the Law commission’s proposal to hold simultaneous state assembly and Lok Sabha elections, while DMK, TMC and Communist parties are against the idea.

The idea of simultaneous polls is not new to this country as the first four of its general elections from 1952-1967 followed the proposed line of a simultaneous election where the electorate elected the state assembly and the central government representatives. The Law Commission has also written in favour of simultaneous elections was in its 117th report on the Reform and Electoral Law (1999).

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