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Speculations abound over Lok Sabha poll schedule
The big question before the country these days is when will the next Lok Sabha Elections be held — next April-May or at the end of this year? Nobody seems to have an answer for this. There were speculations that the elections will be held in May, but for the past few days, there have been contrary indications from the Election Commission, and sources say it is not comfortable with conducting the elections at the end of this year. That is why some say that polls will be held as per schedule.
In fact, in an interview, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said that the country will need new electronic machines if all Assembly Elections and Lok Sabha Elections have to be conducted at the same time. Since the Supreme Court has made it mandatory to use the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) with every Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), the VVPAT printers will be needed in big numbers. If the EC starts the procedure of procuring EVMs and VVPATs right now, then only by September 2018 will it get all required equipment. Before that, the EC will need around Rs 2,000 crore for the same.
There are around 6.88 lakh booths in the country. For a single booth, many machines are required. Three big States go to the polls along with the Lok Sabha, and this year, many more States are expected to have elections along with Lok Sabha. For this, several EVMs will be required and the Government will need three to four months to purchase new EVMs and VVPATs, to update voter lists, and for other preparations. As per logistics, it is almost certain that there will be no elections before schedule.
Apart from this, PM Narendra Modi has been addressing those who are turning 18 this year. Many of them will become voters next January. If Modi is eying those voters, even then he has to wait. That is why it is being said that the General Elections will be held in April-May 2019. Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana go into polls along with the Lok Sabha. There is a possibility that elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Haryana might be held with these. Elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh may also be postponed.
CHANGES IN TWO STATES?
The BJP top leadership seems to be concerned about Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan after the victory of the Congress in the byelections of these States. Byelections for two more Assembly seats are to be held soon, and the BJP has put in all its strength for this. The Assembly seats which are going to the polls lie in the Parliamentary segment of Jyotiraditya Scindia, so the BJP has given the responsibility of one of these seats to Yashodhara Raje Scindia, his aunt. The Congress had won these two seats, but now the BJP wants to take at least one of these.
Meanwhile, the BJP State in-charge Vinay Sahasrabuddhe has been appointed as the chairman of the ICCR, replacing Yogesh Chandra. So, it is being said that the BJP will appoint a new in-charge. Though right now Sahasrabuddhe is looking after the party work, sources say the State in-charge and president might be changed.
In the same manner, after the victory of the Congress in Rajasthan byelections, there is speculation that the BJP State in-charge will be changed. Right now, Avinash Rai Khanna is taking care of the State affairs, but soon a new face could be seen. Sources say these steps could be taken to reinvigorate the party in the State.
RAHUL’S FAITH ON OLD GUARD
The Congress President Rahul Gandhi has proved all speculations wrong by not setting aside old veterans of the party. It can’t be said what will happen when he restructures the organisation, but right now, he has kept all senior leaders along with him and is also seeking advice from them. Recently, Rahul included Motilal Vora in the election committee for Chhattisgarh. Sources say Rahul is of the view that an esteemed leader like Vora is needed to mitigate the effect of Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh. The present leadership has not been able to win the trust of the people when compared to Raman Singh and Ajit Jogi.
In the same manner, former CM of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, is presently working as a close aide of Rahul Gandhi. Rahul was impressed with Gehlot’s strategy and micro-preparations in Gujarat elections, and it seems certain that he will play a big role in devising the strategy for the Lok Sabha Elections.
Rahul has left all the work of the organisation to Janardan Dwivedi. The Congress President wants to hand over the reins of Madhya Pradesh to Jyotiraditya Scindia, but he doesn’t want to antagonise senior leaders like Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh. So, he is trying to fix proper roles for them. There was a lot of speculation that Ahmed Patel might be pushed to the margins, but Rahul continues to seek his advice on each and every issue.
NITISH AND HIS COMMITMENT
It’s been quite a journey for Nitish Kumar — from a dire opponent of Modi to his staunch supporter. There is still time to go into polls for the Lok Sabha, but Nitish has announced that the NDA Government will be in power again. Earlier, Nitish had said that no Opposition leader can match up to Modi. After that, he announced that the BJP would easily win the Gujarat elections. This is a fact that the BJP leaders are not elated over the Gujarat results. The party has had a lot of discussions over this and leaders are debating over how the Congress gave a close fight to the BJP. But Nitish is not bothered about this. He recently told journalists that he had predicted that the BJP would win, and it did with a 48 per cent vote share. Could it be that Nitish is worried about seat distribution and these are attempts to get in the good books of Shah and Modi?
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