Elections 2019: Early-poll chatter keeps Odisha political parties on tenterhooks

Bhubaneswar: Will there be early elections in Odisha? While no political party has a clear idea about it, a statement of the Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat is keeping political leaders in Odisha on tenterhooks.

On being asked whether the Election Commission (EC) is ready if the Lok Sabha polls are held in December along with Assembly polls in four states- Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Rajasthan, Rawat said that the EC is capable of holding the LS elections and also the assembly polls in the four states together if the parliamentary elections are advanced.

He also clarified that the early poll reports are ‘hypothetical and totally speculative’ as the term of the House is not ending in the next six months.

However such chatter has now fuelled questions whether Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will dissolve the State Assembly in case the NDA government at the Centre decides for early polls.

Amid all these assumptions and presumptions, senior BJD leader and Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy today said that simultaneous elections will be helpful for party.

“We will have to work twice if Assembly and LS elections are held separately. Holding simultaneous elections will be like killing two birds with one stone for us,” Maharathy added.

Simultaneous elections can be held in those states where the term of assemblies will end within five months provided they agree to the proposal, said constitutional expert, Amreshwar Mishra.

In 2004, 2009 and 2014, both the LS and Assembly elections were conducted together in Odisha and it benefitted the BJD.

Meanwhile, all the three major political parties in the State- BJD, BJP and Congress today claimed that they are all ready for early polls, if it happens.

“As per the constitutional norms, we can go for elections whenever we want as we have already completed four years in office. If elections are held in December, we will go for it,” said BJD spokesperson, Debashis Samantray.

Odisha Congress campaign committee chief Bhakta Das said, “Congress always respects constitutional norms. As the Parliamentary and Assembly elections were held in Odisha at the same time in 2014, same should be followed this time as well to cut spending.”

“There should be no problems in holding simultaneous elections if conducted as per the constitutional norms,” stated Odisha BJP vice president, Samir Mohanty.

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