Amid BJP’s push for simultaneous polls, EC prepares for ‘normal’ elections

New Delhi: Simultaneous elections are not possible without a legal framework as any extension or curtailment of the term of assemblies will require a constitutional amendment, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said on August 14, a day after the BJP made a fresh push to hold Lok Sabha and assembly elections together.
Pointing at the need for a legal framework, Rawat ruled out holding simultaneous elections any time soon.
“If the term of some state assemblies needs to be curtailed or extended, then a constitutional amendment will be required… Logistics arrangements with regard to 100 per cent availability of VVPATs (voter-verifiable paper trail machines) will be a constraint,” the CEC told reporters.
“On the issue of ‘one nation one poll’, the Election Commission had given inputs and suggestions in 2015 itself… Additional police force, polling personnel would also be needed,” Rawat said.
BJP president Amit Shah wrote to the Law Commission on Monday, supporting holding Lok Sabha and assembly elections simultaneously. In his eight-page letter, the BJP chief said the opposition to simultaneous elections seems to be politically motivated.
Opposition parties have raised concern over the proposal, saying simultaneous elections would dilute India’s federal structure.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a vocal supporter of simultaneous polls.
The EC is in the process of procuring new electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPATs ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The EVMs — 13.95 lakh ballot units and 9.3 lakh control units — will be delivered by September 30; 16.15 lakh VVPATs will be delivered before November-end, Rawat had earlier said.
More VVPATs are being procured as backup in case these machines malfunction and need to be replaced during elections.
If simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies are held in 2019, the EC will need some 24 lakh EVMs, double the number needed to hold only the parliamentary elections.
During their discussion with the Law Commission on May 16, EC officials said they would need Rs. 4,500 crore to buy 12 lakh more EVMs and an equal number VVPAT machines. That estimate was based on current prices.

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