Telangana: Election Commission to send team to review poll preparedness next weekhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/re-elections-in-telangana-a-priority-to-ensure-caretaker-govt-doesnt-take-advantage-cec-op-rawat-5344699/

Telangana: Election Commission to send team to review poll preparedness next week

As per the ruling, "as and when an Assembly is prematurely dissolved, the Election Commission has to fix its calendar for holding fresh election within the time mandated under Article 174(1)".

CM KCR dissolved the state assembly on Thursday.  (Source: TelanganaCMO/Twitter)

A day after the Telangana Assembly was dissolved by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said it will send a team to Hyderabad next week to assess poll preparedness in the state. The team will be led by senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha, who will “assess the situation in the state regarding poll preparedness”, the poll watchdog said in a statement, PTI reported.

Earlier, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said re-elections must be held on priority or on the “first occasion” as per a 2002 Supreme Court ruling. According to the law, once an Assembly is dissolved, the new house must be elected within six months.

Speaking to news agency ANI on the possibility of re-elections in Telangana along with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram, where polls are due later this year, Rawat said, “The commission will take a decision on the dates. The law has no special provisions in this regard. But after a Special Reference No. 1 was submitted to the apex court in 2002, the court ruled that whenever a house dissolves, repolling must be held on the first occasion to ensure the caretaker government doesn’t take advantage of remaining in power. We will have to take all these into consideration before deciding the dates.”

As per the ruling, “as and when an Assembly is prematurely dissolved, the Election Commission has to fix its calendar for holding fresh election within the time mandated under Article 174(1)”. Also, “holding of election immediately after dissolution of the Assembly is also necessary in view of the sanction which is required to be taken with regard to Money Bills by the Legislative Assembly”.

Rawat added, “We’ll assess if Telangana elections can be held with the remaining four states. Any astrological predictions (over dates) made by anyone is notwithstanding.”

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Explaining the due process, the poll body official said that the election commission will first take stock of the situation from the state’s chief electoral officer and then decide to hold the elections. “An official audit will then take place following which the commission will pay a visit to the state,” he said.

The commission is expected to meet and discuss the feasibility of holding fresh elections in the state today. Sources told The Indian Express that the EC is logistically prepared to hold elections in Telangana in November-December.

“Availability of voting machines and deployment of adequate security forces will not be a problem. As for the electoral roll, there is a provision under law for short-term revision,” an EC official told The Indian Express.

On Thursday, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao had dissolved the 120-member Assembly, the first elected government since bifurcation. Governor E S L Narasimhan, who accepted the decision, had asked KCR to remain as caretaker CM.

Shortly after the decision was announced, a report on the EC’s preparedness was sent to the poll body by Telangana’s Chief Electoral Officer. This report will be discussed today.

Also read | Telangana Chief Minister KCR dissolves House, EC looks at polls with 4 others

KCR’s decision to dissolve the Assembly was taken to ensure that the state legislative elections do not clash with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The tenure of the Assembly ends in June 2019, while the Lok Sabha elections are expected in April-May 2019. By holding early elections, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s campaign in the state will not be overshadowed by the BJP, which recently launched its Mission Telangana 2019.