Poll panel says it needs more time for Karnataka polls

March 1st, 2008 - 4:28 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) The Election Commission needs at least six months to complete the delimitation process in Karnataka and this may delay assembly polls there, according to Election Commissioner S.Y. Qureshi. Qureshi said the poll panel had clarified that it would take time to complete the technicalities regarding the redrawing of maps of assembly and parliamentary constituencies.

“The Election Commission is on record that it will need six months to hold elections as per the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission. We will have to see if we can hold elections before that in Karnataka,” Qureshi told IANS.

The clarification came at a time the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is urging the Election Commission to hold assembly elections as early as possible.

President’s rule was promulgated in Karnataka Nov 20 and the assembly was dissolved Nov 28.

Under the constitution, a new assembly should be elected by May 28. According to a Supreme Court ruling, elections cannot be postponed for more than six months after the imposition of President’s rule unless there is a natural disaster.

“Other than the six months to complete the delimitation exercise, we will need two months to complete the election process,” Qureshi said.

“We have set August 31 as the deadline for completing the exercise all over the country. We have kept in mind the big states where we may need more time. There could be problems in some states. That is also being taken into consideration,” he said.

“Delimitation is a delicate exercise and is effective for 30 years. So we cannot take chances,” he said.

Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswamy, accompanied by Election Commissioners Qureshi and Navin Chawla, will visit Karnataka March 4. The panel will meet district magistrates and political parties.

The Karnataka assembly has 225 seats. Post-delimitation, the number of seats will remain the same but the number reserved for Scheduled Castes will increase from 33 to 36 and that of Scheduled Tribes go up from two to 15.

The addition of these 16 seats in these categories is likely to change the political dynamics to a great extent.

Karnataka was under the central rule for 34 days from Oct 9 to Nov 12 after the fall of Janata Dal-Secular-BJP government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy. The assembly was kept under suspended animation.

President’s rule was lifted after the two parties decided to come together again with the JD-S offering unconditional support to a BJP-led government. However, their reconciliation bid failed, leading again to President’s rule.

The central cabinet Feb 14 formally notified the delimitation of constituencies in all states barring Jharkhand, Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

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