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Published On: Fri, Sep 7th, 2018

“We strongly condemn the way CM Telangana announced the schedule: CEC.

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New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O P Rawat announces the schedule for Karnataka elections at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. Karnataka assembly polls will be held on May 12 and counting on May 15. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla (PTI3_27_2018_000022B)

New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O P Rawat announces the schedule for Karnataka elections at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. Karnataka assembly polls will be held on May 12 and counting on May 15. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla (PTI3_27_2018_000022B)

NEW DELHI : Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O.P. Rawat on Friday condemned the remarks by caretaker Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao about the scheduling of fresh polls in the State. He said an EC team will be visiting the State on September 11 to assess the ground situation.
“As per Supreme Court directions, polls will have to be conducted within six months of dissolution and even that also, instead of waiting for six months, polls will have to be conducted on the first possible occasion,” he said.
“The Commission strongly condemns the way the Chief Minister of Telangana announced the supposed schedule. It is uncalled for,” said Mr. Rawat, also denying that he had recently interacted with Mr. Rao or any State government official on the issue.
Mr Rawat said: “We’ll assess if Telangana elections can be held with other four states. Any astrological predictions (over dates) made by anyone is notwithstanding”. Responding to a Congress assertion that early polls would not be possible because the electoral rolls, or voters’ lists, were not revised, Mr Rawat said: “Though revision of rolls started on 1 September, that is not an hindrance to hold polls for Telangana.” He added that the election body had enough EVMs and VVPATs (paper trail to verify votes cast by people) to conduct the Telangana polls.
Following a government notification on the dissolution of the House, the Commission had sought a report from the State Chief Electoral Officer, which was discussed at the EC’s regular meeting on Friday. “No decision has been taken on the poll schedule yet,” said Mr. Rawat. The EC is sending a team of officials headed by Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha to assess the ground situation in the State. Further action will be taken on the basis of its report.
On Thursday, Mr. Rao had said: “The election notification is expected in the first week of October, polls in November and results in December”. The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee had objected to it.
“We strongly condemn the way the Chief Minister of Telangana announced the schedule. KCR’s comments on elections are preposterous and uncalled for,” Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat told NDTV this evening. “We are mandated by the Supreme Court to conduct elections at the earliest possible and there should be no delay,” he added.
KCR’s move to go for early polls in Telangana was widely anticipated for days. Though the election would have been held in June 2019, KCR reportedly wanted to delink the state polls from the national election and ensure that the focus stayed on his role as an architect of the state rather than on Prime Minister Narendra Modi or on the Congress. Officially, KCR cited “political fragility” in the state for wanting early polls and expesed .
“As far as I know, the poll process may begin in October and get completed in November. The results may be announced in the first week of December,” he said, claiming he had spoken with the Chief Election Commissioner.
“Whenever a House is dissolved prematurely, as per the Supreme Court guidelines laid down in 2002, the ECI is required to initiate immediate steps for holding elections for constituting the Legislative Assembly on the first occasion and in any case, within six months from the date of premature dissolution of the Assembly,” said Mr. Rawat.
Given that circumstances, the Commission is faced with two possible scenarios. In case the EC receives a report confirming full preparedness, the election may be conducted along with those in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram by December 15. However, if more arrangements are to be made, it may be held in January next year, ensuring that its results do not influence the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
While the revision of the voters’ list in Telangana is also an issue before the EC, the electoral body is confident that it will not prove to be a hindrance. The process had been initiated on September 1.

The EC is also awaiting a corrigendum to be published by the Union Home Ministry on the transfer of seven “mandals” from Telangana to Andhra Pradesh and three from Andhra Pradesh to Telangana, under the reorganisation law. “We have been told that it would be done in a few days. The Ministry had earlier issued a corrigendum, but it had some flaws,” said Mr. Rawat.
KCR’s move to go for early polls in Telangana was widely anticipated for days. Though the election would have been held in June 2019, KCR reportedly wanted to delink the state polls from the national election and ensure that the focus stayed on his role as an architect of the state rather than on Prime Minister Narendra Modi or on the Congress.
Mr Rawat said: “We’ll assess if Telangana elections can be held with other four states. Any astrological predictions (over dates) made by anyone is notwithstanding”. Responding to a Congress assertion that early polls would not be possible because the electoral rolls, or voters’ lists, were not revised, Mr Rawat said:
“Though revision of rolls started on 1 September, that is not an hindrance to hold polls for Telangana.” He added that the election body had enough EVMs and VVPATs (paper trail to verify votes cast by people) to conduct the Telangana polls. (With Agency Inputs ).

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