BJP, JD-S to call for Karnataka polls in May

March 3rd, 2008 - 10:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

Bangalore, March 3 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) will Tuesday urge the Election Commission to hold the Karnataka assembly polls before May 28, when the president’s rule in the state is due to expire, while the Congress is expected to suggest a much later date. The president’s rule in the state will complete six months May 28 and unless parliament approves its extension, polls to the assembly would have to be held by that date.

Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami and Election Commissioners Navin Chawla and S.Y. Qureshi arrived here from New Delhi late Monday evening for talks with state election officials and political parties on the preparations and the timing of the polls.

State elections officials led by Chief Electoral Officer R. Ramaseshan briefed the three on the progress of re-aligning the constituencies as per the recommendation of the Delimitation Commission.

President Pratibha Patil has given her assent for re-carving the constituencies of the Lok Sabha and assemblies of 24 states of India.

The re-drawing of constituencies in Karnataka will not alter the strength of the assembly, which stands at 224. Only the number of seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes will go up. Bangalore will have 28 assembly seats against 16 at present.

A total of 85 constituencies spread across Karnataka are to be realigned and state election officials say they have already completed more than 50 percent of the work.

Congress leaders officially say they are not against polls in May but contend that voters’ lists are full of anomalies. They claim the lists have nearly six million bogus voters. The state has around 42 million voters.

State election officials admit there were four million bogus voters but they had been struck off the records, and the final revised voters’ lists will be published March 10.

The BJP and JD-S, former allies whose breaking up led to the president’s rule, see the Congress talk of removing anomalies in the voters’ list as a ploy to have the polls put off by several months as the party is faction-ridden and does not have a strong state leader to lead them to face the electorate in May.

“We will oppose the Congress manoeuvres to have the polls postponed. We will urge the Election Commission on Tuesday that polls should be held in May before the expiry of the president’s rule,” senior Karnataka BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was chief minister for a few days before the central rule, told reporters here Monday.

JD-S state president Merajuddin Patel also said his party will press the poll panel for May polls.

State Congress leaders were busy throughout Monday in discussions with Prithviraj Chavan, central minister and in charge of the party’s affairs in Karnataka, who arrived here in the morning to finalise the memorandum to the Election Commission.

“It is left to the Election Commission to decide the poll dates. We are ready for polls in any time but anomalies in the lists must be set right first,” Chavan told reporters after talks with state leaders.

The chief election commissioner and his two colleagues will also meet officials from all 29 districts of the state on Tuesday.

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