A voter’s finger being inked after casting their vote. (Source: PTI)

No Chance, Says CEC On Simultaneous Lok Sabha And Assembly Polls

Putting to rest all speculation, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat today emphatically ruled out the possibility of holding simultaneous elections to the state assemblies along with the Lok Sabha polls anytime soon.

Rawat said that a legal framework is needed for holding simultaneous polls.

There has been some speculation in the recent weeks that Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram due by the end of this year may be deferred and held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for April-May 2019.

While the term of the Mizoram Assembly ends on Dec. 15, the terms of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assemblies will end on Jan. 5, Jan. 7 and Jan. 20, 2019, respectively.

“Koi chance nahi” (no chance at all), Rawat told a select media meet in Aurangabad when asked if it was feasible to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections in the near future.

His comments also come against the backdrop of BJP president Amit Shah’s recent call for a “healthy and open debate” among stakeholders for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.

Also read: BJP Falling Short of Majority, If Elections Held Today: Survey

The lawmakers will take at least a year to frame a law that can be enforceable. This process takes time. As soon as the Bill to amend the Constitution is ready, we (the Election Commission) will know that things are now moving.
O P Rawat, Chief Election Commissioner

The Election Commission commences preparations for the Lok Sabha elections 14 months before the scheduled time frame of polling, Rawat said. “The Commission has a staff strength of just 400 but deploys 1.11 crore people on poll duty during elections.”

To a query on complaints of “failure” of the Electronic Voting Machines, Rawat lamented that in many quarters, the understanding of the EVM system is still not comprehensive. “There is just a 0.5-0.6 percent rate of failure, which is acceptable.”

Rawat also said the voter verified paper trail usage is a new concept which was put in place after the Commission made a commitment to have 100 percent VVPATs following political pressure.

In the Meghalaya assembly bypolls today, there were complaints of VVPAT malfunctioning but that could have been avoided had the authorities there used a high humidity paper, keeping in view that there is high rainfall in the state, he said.

Commenting on the NOTA percentage, Rawat said that it is normally between 1.2 and 1.4 percent.

Also read: Parties Say EVMs, VVPATs Malfunctioned; Election Commission Says Reports Exaggerated