BJD wants simultaneous elections if LS polls preponed

BJD wants simultaneous elections if LS polls preponed

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI file photo

Amid speculation about preponing the Lok Sabha elections, Naveen Patnaik-led BJD on Wednesday approached the Election Commission with a demand that Odisha Assembly polls should also be conducted along with the general elections "so as to save the extra expenditure of almost Rs 1,000 crore".

Odisha went to polls along with Lok Sabha since 2004 as the life of Lower House of Parliament and the state Assembly end at same time. The polls to Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly ideally should happen in April-May but the buzz around preponing the general election has prompted the party to approach the EC.

However, top BJP leaders have rubbished talks of preponing Lok Sabha polls to coincide with the Assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram. There is also a buzz about Telangana dissolving the Assembly and opting for an early election by year-end.

A BJD delegation led by senior MP Pinaki Mishra met Chief Election Commissioner to press on their demand and submitted a letter. "If early elections are called by the Centre, then our state elections should be held simultaneously with Lok Sabha elections. If there are separate elections then Odisha will have to spend Rs 1000 crore more, which we can ill afford," Mishra said.

In the letter submitted to the Election Commission, Mishra said the concept of simultaneous polls is "not new to Odisha".

It was Patnaik who broke the cycle of separate polls and opted for simultaneous elections to Assembly in 2004 when the polls was normally due in 2005, he said adding that was the first such exercise since 1971, Mishra said.

Pointing out that the election expenditure of state polls are to be borne by states if it is held separately, he said, "any separate election to the state today could on a rough estimate cost as much as Rs 1,000 crore to the state exchequer...If concurrent elections to Lok Sabha and state Assembly is held then the expenditure is shared between the central and respective state governments."