No chance of simultaneous LS, assembly polls in 2019: CEC

Vastavam web: Putting to rest all speculation, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat today emphatically ruled out the possibility of holding simultaneous elections to the state assemblies along with the Lok Sabha polls anytime soon. Rawat also said a legal framework is needed to be in place for holding simultaneous polls.

There has been some speculation in the recent weeks that Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram due this year end may be deferred and held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for April-May 2019. “Koi chance nahi” (no chance at all), Rawat told a select media meet in Aurangabad when asked if it was feasible to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections in the near future.

His comments also come against the backdrop of BJP president Amit Shah’s recent call for a “healthy and open debate” among stakeholders for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies. “The lawmakers will take at least a year to frame a law that can be enforceable. This process takes time. As soon as the Bill to amend the Constitution is ready, we (the Election Commission) will know that things are now moving),” Rawat said. To a query on complaints of “failure” of the Electronic Voting Machines(EVMs), Rawat lamented that in many quarters in India, the understanding of the EVM system “isn’t comprehensive enough”.

“There is just a 0.5 to 0.6 per cent rate of failure and such a rate of machine failure is acceptable, ” he said. Rawat also said the Voter Verified Paper Trail(VVPAT) usage is a new concept which was put in place after the Commission made a commitment to have 100 per cent VVPATs following “political pressure”, he said. “You all know that Cherrapunjee, which records the highest rainfall, is in that state,” Rawat said.

To a query, he said the percentage of NOTA option in elections is normally between 1.2 and 1.4 per cent. Replying to another query, Rawat said the Election Commission enjoys full autonomy as can be seen from the manner in which poll officials didn’t budge under political pressure in the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat last year.