Amid Karnataka chaos, Modi is shaping a master stroke for 2019 Lok Sabha polls


While the nation is busy watching the political drama in Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is focused on shaping a move that can help him bag 2019 — simultaneous elections for state assemblies and the Lok Sabha. Away from the public gaze, various organs of the government are in an overdrive to prepare ground for simultaneous polls.

In a meeting called to discuss concerns around the issue of simultaneous polls on Wednesday, the Law Commission has sought to know from the Election Commission why a single and common electoral roll could not be created for elections to local bodies, state assemblies and the Lok Sabha, according to an ET report. ET has learnt that there has also been a nudge from the PMO on the subject

The idea to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls had been slowly gaining weight but now it seems the government is actively pursuing it. An elaborate exercise had been carried out by various quarters of the government, including the NITI Aayog and law ministry, to explore all possible options to move towards simultaneous elections, which the government believes would help reduce the cost and work required in the process to elect the governments.

Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani had mooted the idea more than a decade ago. It went to Parliamentary standing committee during the first term of the UPA. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has revived the idea. Addressing BJP office-bearers and state unit chiefs in March 2016, Modi called for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha, state assemblies and even the panchayat bodies. Since then, the government has considered several ways to implement it.

In a report in March, Tokyo-based global financial services firm Nomura said the next Lok Sabha elections could happen earlier than scheduled. Nomura assigned a 25 per cent probability that the Lok Sabha polls are held in the last quarter of the 2017-18 instead of May 2019 when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends.

The advancing of Lok Sabha elections will make them coincide with state elections in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Nomura said this could give the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an advantage. It would be easier for the BJP to campaign and it could beat anti-incumbency in states.

Often in state elections, regional and local issues matter more than national issues. The BJP is seen to be facing strong anti-incumbency these states. But if the elections coincide, the Lok Sabha campaign of the BJP can influence voting in the state elections too.

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