Legal framework for simultaneous polls will take lot of time, says CEC OP Rawat

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New Delhi | Published: January 23, 2018 8:53:03 PM

Days after a fresh push by the prime minister on simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls, Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat today had a word of caution saying, the legal framework required to hold the two elections together will take a "lot of time" to get ready.

OP Rawat,  OP Rawat on poll procedure in india, are simultaneous polls possible, why simultaneous pollsNew Chief Election Commissioners Om Prakash Rawat. (PTI)

Days after a fresh push by the prime minister on simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls, Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat today had a word of caution saying, the legal framework required to hold the two elections together will take a “lot of time” to get ready. Rawat, who took over as the CEC today, said he would be the wrong person to respond as to whether simultaneous polls could be held in 2019. “We cannot put the cart before the horse. Logistical issues are subservient to legal framework. Unless legal framework is in place, we don’t have to talk about anything else because legal framework will take lot of time — making constitutional amendment to (changing) the law — all the process will take time,” he said. He said once the legal framework is ready, the EC will deliver. “… EC is a creation of the Constitution. We have to perform willy-nilly, deliver the election, whatever way prescribed in the law,” he said.

On being asked whether simultaneous polls could be held as early as in 2019, Rawat said he was the wrong person to answer this. He said in 2015, the poll panel was asked by the government about the feasibility of simultaneous polls and the commission made it clear that it would require amendment to the Constitution and election laws and would require certain number of EVMs, poling personnel, Rs 9000 core besides other logistics.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had been batting for holding Lok Sabha and assembly polls together, had recently said that like festivals, elections should be held on fixed dates so that governments can function for five years. He had also said that barbs exchanged during campaigning in one state have a bearing in other parts of the country which are not going to polls.

Responding to a question on government rejecting EC’s demand for contempt power, Rawat said the commission was of the view that when unfounded, baseless allegations are levelled against it, it vitiates the atmosphere and affects the minds of the electorate. “For that EC should have those powers, it may serve some purpose. But the government said it won’t be appropriate. And we have not said anything after that. Today, we don’t have any such thing in mind (to reiterate our demand),” he said.

He said the EC had stopped seeding of voter identity I-cards with Aadhaar following a Supreme Court directive. “But we have approached the apex court to allow use restart seeding to check duplicity,” the CEC said.

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