CEC condemns CM Telangana’s remarks over election schedule

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had earlier stated that the State would go to polls in November

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 pools in the State. He said an EC team will be visiting the State on September 11 to assess the ground situation.

“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.

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.

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.

“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.

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