After attacking the Election Commission of India over allegations of EVM tampering and deletion of names from the voter list, the Aam Aadmi Party has come up with another charge against the constitutional body. On 31st May, AAP MLA from Greater Kailash Saurabh Bharadwaj claimed that the EC is planning to dissolve to Delhi Assembly ahead of its tenure and hold the assembly elections in October this year.
The MLA tweeted that there is a strong buzz that EC will hold the Delhi assembly elections along with other states going to poll in October itself. He asked whether EC can curtail the period of an elected assembly. This tweet was retweeted by Delhi CM and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, indicating that the party endorses the allegation. Bharadwaj also claimed that “EC is making such plans in connivance with the BJP”.
Saurabh Bharadwaj is the same AAP MLA who had presented the proof of EVM hacking by demonstrating the same with a toy EVM in the Delhi assembly in May 2017.
BJP has strongly denied the allegations of connivance with EC levelled by AAP. Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said that Bharadwaj’s statements part of AAP’s “negative politics”. He said that “Bharadwaj and Arvind Kejriwal should shed the habit of making illogical statements to vent out their political frustration and remain in news. Due to its negative politics, AAP has totally lost its political ground. If AAP does not shed its negativity and start working for people, then in February 2020 AAP may vanish from Delhi’s political arena.”
Coming to Delhi assembly, contrary to the allegations made by Aam Aadmi Party, the Election Commission does not have the authority to curtail the term of an assembly. A state assembly can be dissolved by the Governor on the recommendation of the Chief Minister, or when the assembly fails to elect a government due to no party winning a majority. In case of union territories like Delhi, the assembly is dissolved by the president on the advice of the parliament.
But the EC can hold the elections in advance without curtailing the term of the house. For example, the term of 16th Lok Sabha was scheduled to end on 3rd June, but the elections for the 17th Lok Sabha were held in April and May. This is done to ensure that the house is elected and ready when the term of the outgoing house ends.
According to section 15 of the representation of people’s act, the Election Commission can issue notification for parliament or assembly elections within six months before the term of the current house ends. Therefore, if the poll panel wants, they can actually hold the elections in October, as the elections in Delhi are due in February 2020. But that will not curtail the term of current assembly, the new assembly will come into force on the scheduled date even if the polls are held in advance.
But the fact is EC has not made any such announcement, and there is no proof that BJP is conspiring with EC to prepone the elections in Delhi. This is just one of many conspiracy theories that AAP keep coming out with to malign the election commission. They lost the recent Lok Sabha elections in Delhi very badly, coming third behind BJP and Congress, where BJP won all 7 seats with huge margins. The chance of AAP returning to power in Delhi is slim, and in that backdrop, it is expected that the party will increase its attack on the Election Commission, the entire election process including EVM, and of course BJP.