BJP for simultaneous polls, says nation can't be in election mode always

BJP sources, however, maintained no concrete proposal is there for deferring and advancing of state polls and the idea has not been discussed formally within the party

BJP, BJP flag
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The BJP on Monday made a strong pitch for simultaneous polls to "curb expenditure", amid indications in some quarters that efforts can be made to hold the Lok Sabha election with that for 10-11 assemblies early next year by delaying elections in three BJP-ruled states and advancing the same for others scheduled for later in 2019.

BJP sources, however, maintained no concrete proposal is there for deferring and advancing of state polls and the idea has not been discussed formally within the party, as constitutional validity of any such step would need to be taken into account.

With the tenure of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh assemblies expiring in January next year, a party leader indicated that a brief spell of governor's rule may be explored for these BJP-ruled states so that assembly elections there could be held with the Lok Sabha polls early next year. He, however, clarified that no concrete proposal has been formulated so far.

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

Former Lok Sabha secretary general and constitutional expert P D T Acharya, however, 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 Lok Sabha elections, which were last held in April-May 2014, are as such expected to be held early next year along with assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana.

Some states such as Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra -- all under the BJP's rule -- are scheduled for assembly polls later in 2019 and the idea being floated is to advance the elections there to hold them along with the parliamentary election.

Another state where talks of advancing assembly elections are doing the rounds is Bihar, where the election is due in 2020-end. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a junior partner in the state government led by Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United).

The JD(U) has in public pooh-poohed the suggestion that the state election be held with the Lok Sabha polls but many political watchers believe that it may suit Kumar as well as he may be given a larger pie in seat-sharing for the assembly and lesser seats for Lok Sabha.

Earlier on Monday, BJP president Amit Shah wrote to the Law Commission supporting holding Lok Sabha and assembly polls simultaneously. He dubbed the opposition to simultaneous polls politically motivated, and asserted that it will curb expenditure and ensure the nation is not in "election mode" throughout the year.

Shah said the BJP is committed to this idea and explicitly believes that in a progressive democracy like India elections should be held at a fixed time and for a fixed tenure so that people's representatives can carry out their duties effectively.

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

Holding simultaneous polls is not merely a principle and it was also successfully practised between 1952 and 1967, he said, adding that several institutions, including the Election Commission, Law Commission and parliamentary committee, have supported it since then.

Several opposition parties including the Congress has been opposing the idea of holding simultaneous polls, calling such a step against democratic practices. Political observers believe that the BJP is pitching for holding Lok Sabha and state elections together to tackle the anti-incumbency factor and for maximising the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during campaigns.