Maharashtra minister Sudhir Mungantiwar Thursday ruled out the possibility of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assemblies polls in 2019, but said it could be happen in 2024 if political parties reach a consensus.
He added that besides the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, elections to municipal corporations, municipal councils and zilla parishads (ZPs) could also be held simultaneously if there was a consensus among the parties.
Mungantiwar is the chairman of the two-member committee set up earlier this year by the Maharashtra government to examine the feasibility of simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, and send a report to the Centre.
The first meeting of the committee was held on July 31, while the second one was conducted on Wednesday (December 5).
Speaking to select journalists here, Mungantiwar said, "There is no plan by the Centre to hold simultaneous elections in 2019. But it can take place in 2024 if political parties reach a consensus. The committee formed on the issue will have to give its suggestions if simultaneous elections could be held in 2024."
The state finance minister added that the committee will consider three major factors.
"We spend a huge amount of time, money and manpower on conducting polls. It has been noticed that somewhere in a state, there is an election code of conduct in operation for some election. We lose 311 days out of the total 365 days in a year over the code of conduct and the development works are stalled during these days," he said.
"Simultaneous polls will save money and give more time for development issues," he said, adding that his department had allocated Rs 36 crore to conduct bypolls in Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seats earlier this year.
Mungantiwar said being a part of the committee it was an opportunity for him to study the election process of 193 countries from across the world.
He said he could either simply recommend suggestions in one line or give it after conducting an in-depth study of political and democratic systems in the world to conduct polls.
"If a sitting legislator dies before completing his tenure his party could either recommend the name of an highly educated or a professional person as a replacement or the Election Commission can select the runner-up candidate from the same constituency. These are some of our thoughts," the BJP leader said.
Also, if the Centre concludes about taking simultaneous polls, some state assemblies will need to be dissolved before their tenure and therefore, some states may oppose the decision, he added.
"The BJP is in power in more than 90 per cent states. After the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, we will be a majority in Rajya Sabha also. Then, we can take the decision we want to," he said.
On whether the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls could be held simultaneously in 2019, he said, "It can happen the day Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray decide to do so.
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