BJD in favour of simultaneous elections in country

Bhubaneswar: With all eyes on 2019 elections, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) today came out in favour of BJP’s push for “One Nation, One Poll” or simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the country.

Odisha MSME Minister and senior BJD leader Prafulla Samal stated, “There is a need to conduct simultaneous polls as the expenditure will be much less and the developmental works will not get hampered.”

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also favoured the ‘One Nation, One Poll’ concept and said, “Several political parties and State governments have agreed for simultaneous polls.”

However, Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot said, “The approach put forward is wrong as no solution has been suggested in case of dissolution of State Assemblies.”

In the midst of BJP’s push for ‘One Nation, One Poll;’ the Election Commission today, however, appeared to rule out simultaneous polls to Assemblies and the Lok Sabha given the present logistics and constitutional constraints.

Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said, however, the commission would continue to deliver its responsibility of conducting polls whenever the term of a state assembly comes to an end.

“On the issue of ‘One Nation, One Poll,’ the commission had given inputs and suggestions in 2015 itself. Logistics with reference to 100 per cent availability of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPATs) machines will be a constraint,” Rawat told the media.

He also said if the term of some state Assemblies needed to be curtailed or extended then a constitutional amendment would be required. There will be other requirements of additional police force and polling personnel.

“The commission will continue to deliver its responsibility of conducting elections whenever the term of state Assemblies comes to an end,” Rawat said.

The Chief Election Commissioner’s remarks come amidst the push by the BJP for simultaneous parliament and Assembly elections over which party President, Amit Shah, wrote a letter to the Law Commission on Monday.

There were speculations that the ruling party could aim at limited simultaneous polls by either advancing the Lok Sabha polls along with assembly polls in states like Maharashtra and combine them with elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh later this year.

Or alternatively, the year-end polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram could be postponed till the Lok Sabha polls next year.

Meanwhile in Odisha, the Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar informed that of total 90,000 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) allotted to Odisha, 95% have reached state. The first level check (FLC) of EVMs will be conducted in presence of representatives of political parties, he added.