The BJP’s proposed move to go for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies may upset the apple cart of Telangana’s ruling party Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS).The BRS, which was gearing up for the Assembly polls slated to be held in November-December this year, is apparently taken aback with the plans by Narendra Modi government to implement ‘One Nation, One Election’ system.
The special session of the Parliament scheduled to be held from September 18 to 22 may see the government taking a decision on holding simultaneous polls.If this happens, the Assembly elections in Telangana may be delayed by a couple of months.
Political analysts say the Modi factor may have greater influence in simultaneous polls and this may spoil the plans of BRS.The Modi government’s move to constitute a committee under the chairmanship of former President Ram Nath Kovind to explore the possibility of ‘one Nation, one Election’ has sent ripples in the BRS.
The party has not yet officially reacted to the development but Chief Minister and BRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao is believed to have discussed the issue with some senior party leaders.BRS leaders do not believe that a decision will come so soon on ‘One Nation, one Election’ given the complexities involved.
However, the possibility of the BJP government advancing Lok Sabha polls can’t be ruled out.In such a scenario, Assembly elections in Telangana and some other states will be held along with the Parliamentary elections.
While BRS leader and former MP B. Vinod Kumar has said that their party is ready for elections even if they are held simultaneously, sustaining a long campaign may be a challenge for the party.
Election mood has already set in with KCR announcing BRS candidates for 115 out of 119 Assembly seats. The ruling party is upbeat and confident of winning a third term in power.Telangana Assembly polls used to be held along with Lok Sabha polls until 2014.
But KCR dissolved the House in September 2018, forcing elections three months later. The elections were thus advanced by 4-5 months.KCR’s strategy to delink Assembly polls with the Lok Sabha elections yielded the desired results as BRS stormed back to power by winning 88 seats.
After KCR announced the list of candidates, they along with their supporters have started campaigning in their respective constituencies.BRS leaders believe that if elections are delayed, sustaining the campaign will be a challenge.
This is also likely to impact the momentum generated by the BRS by rolling out a slew of welfare measures during the last couple of months to consolidate its vote bank.
Simultaneous polls may also hit KCR’s plans to contest Lok Sabha elections in other states as the party will have to focus on the home turf.
The BRS has plans to contest the polls in states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh in alliance with like-minded parties.Interestingly, the BRS (then TRS) had backed the idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’ in 2018.
The party had told the Law Commission that simultaneous polls will help save time and expenditure.The BRS had then stated that 4-6 months of time is spent in conducting elections each time to Lok Sabha and State Assembly.“Entire state and district level administration and security machinery is engaged with the elections twice in 5 years,” it had said.
However, a few weeks later KCR decided to advance the Assembly elections, which were originally scheduled to be held along with Lok Sabha polls in April-May 2019.
It will be interesting to see what stands KCR-led party takes when the Committee constituted by the Centre starts holding consultations with the political parties.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy does not believe that a Bill for simultaneous elections will be passed in the special session of the Parliament next month.
“The Committee is yet to start its work. It will be a long-drawn process as the Committee will have to hold talks with all stakeholders and the government will have to build a consensus,” he said.
He is also of the view that simultaneous polls need not necessarily mean people will vote for the same party in the state and at the Centre.“The voters are mature and they know which party they should vote for at the state level and at the Centre,” he said.
He cited the example of Odisha, where simultaneous elections were held for Assembly and Lok Sabha in 2019. People voted BJD back to power in the state.