Election Commission rules out of holding 11 state elections along with 2019 general election next year

New Delhi: The Election Commission has clarified that holding state elections along with the general election next year will not be possible without any constitutional amendment or legal framework.

The terms of assemblies cannot be cut short or President’s Rule declared in states to hold elections together without a Constitutional amendment, said Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat. The EC does not enjoy leeway in such matters, he added. The clarification came a day after BJP president Amit Shah pushed for the ‘One nation one election’ idea, as part of the party’s game plan to hold elections in 11 states along with the 2019 general elections.

Rawat also pointed at the logistical difficulties, saying arrangements with regard to 100 per cent availability of VVPATs (voter-verifiable paper trail machines) will be a constraint. Additional police force and polling personnel would also be needed for simultaneous polls. On the issue of ‘one nation one poll,’ the Election Commission had given inputs and suggestions in 2015 itself, Rawat told reporters.

On Tuesday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also ruled out any plans to hold simultaneous polls and denied that Shah had mooted any such specific proposal. Shah merely wanted the idea of one nation, one poll to be debated and discussed, explained Patra. The Congress has dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dissolve the Lok Sabha early and announce general elections along with polls in four states, where the terms of the assemblies end this year. Party general secretary Ashok Gehlot said this is “not possible” under the Constitution or the law. BJP ally Nitish Kumar has reiterated that the concept of one nation one poll is right, but it is not feasible right now. “It will not be possible this time to hold elections to the Lok Sabha and all the states simultaneously. While the idea is possible, it can’t be done at this moment,” Kumar said.

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