CEC hints at early polls in Telangana

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New Delhi : Ahead of the full meeting of the Election Commission, Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat on Friday appeared to hint at the possibility of holding Assembly elections in Telangana along with the polls due in four other states in December this year.

However, he said it could be difficult if more states decide to go for early polls in view of difficulties in logistics.

"The Supreme Court has ruled clearly that in case of the House dissolution, polls should be held on the first occasion becuase caretaker governments cannot continue and get the advantage. You cannot dissolve the House and continue for six months as a caretaker government," Rawat told media hours before the Commission's meeting on the demand for early election following dissolution of the Telangana Assembly on Thursday.

"Elections have to be held as soon as possible. A decision will be taken keeping in mind various court rulings on the issue and prevailing ground reality," the CEC said adding that the Commission holds poll within the legal framework to ensure they are free, fair and credible.

Assembly elections are due in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram later this year. The term of the Telangana Assembly was ending on June 19, 2019 but the Telangana Rashtra Samiti government chose to dissolve it, seeking early polls.

Citing the malfunctioning of the VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines during the recent by-polls in many places, he said the Commission was working to fix the problem.

"We are facing one constraint as of now. In many places during the by-polls the VVPAT malfunctioned, somewhere the complaints were about 5 per cent, eight per cent and 11 per cent. The technical committee of the Commission is working to fix the problem in the VVPAT after doing the root analysis of the problem," he said.

He also said that the Commission would get the electronic voting machines (EVMs) by September 30 and the VVPATs by November 30. "And as the Commission has committed in the all-party meeting that the elections would be held with the VVPATs... so the elections that are possible within the VVPAT numbers, it won't be any issue for us.

"But as you are saying that this (demand for early polls in other states) may spread like an infection, then there will be some problem," Rawat said.

The CEC also said that as per Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling, "it is clear that the any constitutional institution cannot claim impossible as possible. And as I said if there is any resource constraint then we shall explain it clearly that we are resource-constrained."