Simultaneous polls not easy for Telangana and AP

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Constitutional amendment required if Naidu’s pitch is to be heard.

Hyderabad: The recent noises made by TD national president N. Chandrababu Naidu on early polls for both Lok Sabha and Assembly, preferably in 2018, have renewed the debate on such a possibility, as well as talk on whether the government was really interested in such a move.

Factually, the five-year terms of both the Assemblies of AP and Telangana states, which were formed in June 2014, will end in June, 2019.

Normally, the term of Assembly is for five years; the clock starts ticking from the date of first sitting of the Assembly.

While the present TS Assembly’s term will continue till June 8, 2019, the AP Assembly’s term expires on June 18, 2019.

As per the Representation of People’s Act, the Election Commission on its own can schedule the next elections any time in the six months before the expiry of the Assembly. This means Assembly elections for AP and TS can be held anywhere between January to June, 2019. However, it’s not possible to hold polls before January 2019, unless they are forced.

The State Cabinet, headed by the Chief Minister, can pass a resolution recommending the Governor to dissolve the State Assembly. This, the Governor has to accept, then dissolve the House and inform the Election Commission. Under normal circumstances, the EC is bound to conduct polls within six months from the date of dissolution of the House.

However, it did not do so in case of Gujarat Assembly in 2002 and even conveyed to the Supreme Court that the “six month” clause to hold elections was not mandatory on it for a dissolved House.

And as far as simultaneous polls for Lok Sabha and all State Assemblies are concerned, it will require an amendment to the Constitution to bring changes like preponement and postponement of the tenure of various State Assemblies.

The amendment should get the approval of both Houses of Parliament by a special majority and later endorsed by a minimum of 50 per cent of Legislatures in the country.

More than that, it requires consensus among all the political parties. Recently, the EC briefed the logistics behind the move to the Union Law Ministry.

However, there is a clear difference between simultaneous polls, something that is not new as far as AP is concerned (Since 1999, simultaneous polls have been held for four consecutive terms) and holding early polls which is possible only after dissolution of either the Lok Sabha or state Assembly, whichever the case maybe.

Interestingly, early polls appeared to be jinxed for the TD. Whenever the TD preferred early polls by dissolving the Assembly (A scenario opted by the party three times in the past) except for one occasion, it never returned to power.

After 1984 August crisis, N.T. Rama Rao dissolved the Assembly on November 22, 1984 (House formed in 1983), elections were held in March 1985 and NTR stormed back to power.

In 1989 when Lok Sabha elections were held, N.T. Rama Rao wrote to Election Commission to hold simultaneous polls to AP Assembly though its term was till March 1995. Polls were held and TD lost miserably.

In 2003, after Maoist attack on him on October 1, Mr Naidu preferred early polls, hoping to cash in on the sympathy ‘wave’. The TD lost.

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