To highlight its commitment to simultaneous polls, the BJP is considering to hold assembly elections in at least 11 states along with the Lok Sabha polls, which are due in the first half of the next year. Modi and Shah duo is surveying the possibility of adjourning assembly elections of some states by a few months and advancing some others to ensure they are held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls. Other states where assembly polls can be advanced to enable it to be held with the 2019 general elections are Haryana, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra — all under the BJP’s rule. The tenure of the assembly in the Congress-ruled Mizoram is ending in December this year. The terms of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh assemblies will expire in January next year and the governments of these BJP-ruled states may recommend a brief spell of Governor’s rule so that the assembly elections in those states could be held with the Lok Sabha polls. So far, there is no official announcement from the party office but the internal sources of BJP are spreading the word to the media. Meanwhile, BJP President Amit Shah wrote to the Law Commission stating his party was in favour of simultaneous elections, saying it would curb expenditure and ensure that the nation is not in “election mode” throughout the year.
With the opposition parties like Congress being against the idea, the government is not in a position to affect the constitutional amendment that the exercise of holding the assembly and Lok Sabha polls simultaneously would require.
Congress MP (Rajya Sabha) and veteran journalist Kumar Ketkar stated, “BJP believes the simultaneous election will be favourable for the ruling party. Congress has already opposed the proposal but if all political parties decide, we have to go with it. States under the BJP rule will agree with One Nation One Election. BJP is scared of losing the upcoming Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections.”
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his hurricane poll rallies, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said, “One Nation, One Election is nice. If the democracy has to take root in our country, then the Election Commission should ban the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and Ministers from (participating in) poll campaigns; if not, then Modi should address the election meetings of all parties and not just the BJP. While being sworn-in, the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and Ministers take an oath that they will treat everyone as equal. Why should the Prime Minister go only for the BJP (poll) campaign?” If simultaneous polls happen, PM should take out time to rally for each and every party.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Chitra Wagh expressed, “One Nation One Tax was not successful, how it is possible to have a successful One Nation One Election? Neither simultaneous elections nor separate elections will save money. The incumbent government is going haywire on its development agenda and failed to govern satisfactorily in the last four years. People are not fools. NCP is yet to take a decision on One Nation One Election. BJP is going aggressive on One Nation One Election because a few recent surveys specify a mandate in favour of Congress in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls.”
Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Telangana are scheduled to be held with the Parliamentary polls. Another state where talks of advancing assembly elections are doing the rounds is Bihar, where the election is due in 2020 end. The BJP is a junior partner in the state government led by JDU’s Nitish Kumar.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general and constitutional expert PDT Acharya, however, questioned the legal validity of imposing the Governor’s rule in the states where assembly elections are due before the Lok Sabha polls. The Governor’s rule can be imposed only in case of constitutional breakdown, he said.
Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar said, “Amit Shah gave a letter to the Election Commissioner supporting the One Nation One Election as they are scared after a few recent surveys showed the mandate against BJP in upcoming assembly polls. BJP has realised the impact of the last election in Gujarat and Karnataka. So, to postpone these elections, BJP has no option left except One Nation One Election. It will be against our democracy to postpone all three elections and Sena chief will take a decision regarding the proposal.”
“They want to create more corrupt industrialists. This government will take decisions without consulting any concerned departments, just like demonetisation due to which country is suffering till date,” opposition leader Dhananjay Munde asserted.
There is a view within the BJP that holding assembly elections of as many states as possible with the Lok Sabha polls will be a positive plank in its favour as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly emphasised his support to the idea.
“Only reason that BJP is pushing for One Nation One Election is that they are going to lose in three upcoming state elections and it will be very difficult for the party to bounce back in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. However, the Indian Parliamentary system consists of the opposition parties, smaller regional parties and this decision needs an approval from the majority. In last four years, BJP did not fulfill their promises and now they want to play gamble. As per the Election Commission guidelines, for amending any new rule, all parties need to agree and BJP should not think they can do everything all alone,” AIMIM MLA Imtiaz Jaleel concluded.