Network18 Exclusive: Don’t see possibility of Lok Sabha, state elections being held together, says Arun Jaitley

Throwing cold water on rising speculation that the central government may advance the Lok Sabha elections to make them coincide with a string of state elections, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said he does not see the possibility of simultaneous elections.

In an exclusive interview with Network18, Jaitley said that the government wants simultaneous elections to take place “but it is not necessary that dates will be advanced for that”.

When asked specifically if there was a possibility of elections being pushed back for states like Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan, Jaitley said, “There is no constitutional provision for that… Constitution does not permit any such move.”

Also read: Rising crude oil prices a key worry, says Arun Jaitley

The FM added that till the time constitution was changed, and there is consensus on the issue among political parties, the assembly and LS elections will not overlap. “And going by the reactions the issue has evoked, it seems people(opposition) are not in favour of any such move,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month had said that simultaneous elections are possible if all political parties work together because no political party or government alone can be successful in holding simultaneous polls both at the national and state level.

The Prime Minister has said simultaneous polls will save time and effort of bureaucrats, government officials and security personnel, and also the enormous expenditure incurred by the exchequer.

Simultaneous polls will also ensure that development work is not stopped every few months because of the imposition of the model code of conduct, according to the PM.

In his Republic Day Eve speech, President Ram Nath Kovind too had said that regular polls “adversely impact the economy and development”.

However, the Opposition, including the Congress, has so far not warmed up to the idea.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, a noted constitutional lawyer, had said that Modi’s ‘one nation one poll’ was yet another “election jumla”, or gimmick. He added that it cannot be done under the current constitutional provisions.