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Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: Amid speculations over early Lok Sabha elections, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha today urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to make adequate preparations to hold elections to Odisha Assembly simultaneously.

BJD's Puri MP, PinakiMisratoday met the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and apprised him about the State’s stand in case the Centre moves for early elections to the lower house of the Parliament.

The BJD leader said that the decision is aimed at reducing the extra expenditure burden on the people of Odisha and to avoid repeated Model Code of Conduct during separate elections to LokSabha and State Assemblies which would affect the development works of the State government.

“Expenditure incurred on items of common concern to the Central and the State Governments like expenditure on regular establishment, preparation and revision of electoral rolls is shared on 50:50-basis irrespective of whether such expenses are incurred in connection with elections to Lok Sabha or State Legislatures. Even if the election is to Lok Sabha, expenditure towards law and order maintenance is borne by the respective State Governments only” a letter from the parliamentarian to the ECI stated.

Amid talks doing rounds that the Central Government may prepone the LokSabha elections, we have urged the CEC to make adequate preparations to hold elections to Odisha Assembly simultaneously as the State will be able to save an extra expenditure of Rs 1000 crores, Misra said after meeting the CEC.

Misra further added that the party has requested the Election Commission of India to dismiss the poll expenses irregularity case against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

"After receiving RTI noting clarifying that there is no substance in the alleged poll expense irregularity case against Naveen Babu, we have told the CEC that the matter cannot hang in fire indefinitely. The CEC has graciously committed to dispose off the case within one month," Misra said.

It is pertinent to mention that this is not the first time that Odisha has chosen for simultaneous polls.  Earlier in 2004, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had opted for simultaneous elections to Assembly though the polls were due in 2005 when the Lok Sabha elections were preponed by the then NDA government.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had stated “We have always supported simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Assembly seats.”

A few days earlier, Odisha Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy had said “Simultaneous elections would be like one bullet two kills.”

However, BJD’s support to simultaneous elections has raised eyebrows in the Opposition flanks.

BJP spokesperson Pitambar Acharya said till now there is no clue whatsoever about any early elections for the Lok Sabha as it is the constitutional right of only the ECI to take decision in that matter. Similarly, the State Assembly has also not been dissolved, Acharya said.

Taking a dig at BJD’s move, Acharya said “I have never heard about anyone writing to the Election Commission urging for elections.”

Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said BJD has acted as the saviour for the BJP every time when the saffron party found itself in trouble, and hence the former is supporting simultaneous elections.

Political experts are of the opinion that the BJD’s support to simultaneous polls shows its concern about Modi’s popularity which might snatch some seats from their bastion.

Similarly, experts also consider that code-of-conduct in view of early polls might hamper ruling-BJD’s prospects of wooing voters through some new schemes.

Senior journalist, Rabi Das said BJD is aware that if separate elections are held then the BJP will fully concentrate on Odisha Assembly elections.

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