Nitish Kumar supports PM Modi on simultaneous polls, just not in 2019
The chief minister, whose term ends only in 2020, about one-and-a-half years after the Lok Sabha elections that are slated for May 2019, seems unlikely to give up ruling for the full term.
PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar on Monday clarified his party’s apparent support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal that polls for the Lok Sabha and Assemblies of all states should be held simultaneously. He said he was all for it, but not in 2019.
The chief minister, whose term ends only in 2020, about one-and-a-half years after the Lok Sabha elections that are slated for May 2019, seems unlikely to give up ruling for the full term. Sources in the JD(U), however, said there was more to it.
There are plans within emerging Nitish’s resurgent ally BJP to deny the JD(U) more than five seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, said sources in the chief minister’s party, and that is why Nitish was compelled to clarify that he does not want Bihar Assembly polls held along with the general election.
The JD(U), which allied with the BJP in July after snapping ties with RJD and Congress, had contested in 38 of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats on its own in the 2014 polls but won only two. BJP has indicated that JD(U) would get those two seats and three more to contest in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. But JD(U) clearly wants more.
So, on Monday, Nitish hastened to add nuance to a statement made earlier by JD(U) state chief Bashistha Narayan Singh, who is considered close to him. Singh had said that JD(U) supports the proposal for simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha and assemblies.
Nitish clarified that while he believed that simultaneous elections were a good idea that would save costs, it should only be done in 2024, after a possible Constitutional amendment.
“We (JD-U) support simultaneous elections to the state assemblies and Parliament, but it does not mean we want Bihar Assembly polls to be held in 2019,” said Kumar, seeking to clear the air over intense speculations about whether JD(U) would gain enough if polls are held for Bihar Assembly a year-and-a-half before schedule.
“Holding simultaneous polls will reduce the high expenditures of holding elections and allow smoother governance and administration. I am in favour of such a system. Wider consultation is necessary for this, and maybe a constitutional amendment would be required,” he said.
He said elections for Lok sabha, state assemblies, urban local bodies and panchayat raj institutions should be held simultaneously and in two phases across the country.
Former ally, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, currently Bihar’s main Opposition party, which has the largest number of MLAs, had protested against the proposal for simultaneuous polls after Narayan Singh made the comments.