The Election Commission (EC) can hold the Lok Sabha elections along with polls to four state assemblies in December, if the parliamentary elections are advanced, said Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat on Wednesday, August 15.
He was responding to a question on whether the EC was ready if the Lok Sabha elections are held in December along with assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Rajasthan.
“Why not. There would not be any problem,” Rawat told PTI.
The statement comes amid speculation in some circles that Modi government may want to go for early Lok Sabha election, scheduled for April-May 2019, and have it in November-December 2018 along with assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Rajasthan.
The BJP is believed to be on a weak wicket in these states and a loss in these states – three of them of major importance to the party – may affect the party’s fortunes in Lok Sabha elections. On the other hand, if Lok Sabha election is held along with polling for these state assemblies, the ‘Modi for PM’ factor would also help the party’s prospects in the states as well.
While the term of the Mizoram Assembly will end on December 15, the terms of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assemblies would end on January 5, 2019 January 7 and January 20, 2019, respectively.
Asked whether the required electronic voting machines (EVMs) and paper trail machines would be ready if the LS polls are held in December along with those of four assemblies, the CEC said while all the required EVMs would be in place by September end, paper trail machines would come in November end, reported NDTV.
The CEC explained that out of 17.5 lakh paper trail machines, 16 lakh would be in place before November. The remaining 1.5 lakh paper trail or voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines would be delivered by the end of November.
“As you had sought to know, if LS elections are held in December, then the first level check (FLC) of the 1.5 lakh VVPATs (which EC would get in November end) would be difficult … then some critical small gaps would be there,” he said, according to the NDTV report.
While the EC needs EVMs and VVPATs for 10 lakh polling stations for the LS polls, it needs the two devices for two lakh polling stations in four states where Assembly elections would be due in December-January.
“There would be a little constraint on the reserves. Instead of 135 per cent (reserves), will have to go for 130 per cent, if the situation arises,” Rawat said about VVPATs.
Rawat said there have been delays in the delivery of paper trail machines as the Technical Experts Committee appointed by it analyses the technology stabilisation issues in the initial batches and incorporates essential design improvements.
“This ensures we don’t face the problems later,” he said.
Over 11 per cent of the 10,300 VVPAT machines across 10 states had developed faults and had to be replaced during the May 28 bypolls.