Gossip…gossip… there is gossip everywhere about the early polls in Telangana State. Some newspapers even went to the extent of predicting the date of dissolution of Telangana Assembly and the possible period of election. Whenever Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao visits New Delhi and meets the Prime Minister Modi to pursue for early approvals for the long pending state issues in his own characteristic style, the media gossips about the elections with banner headlines. The media astrologers’ prediction however may be worthwhile to analyse addressing the pros and cons of dissolution of Assembly and going for early polls. And, if the Assembly is dissolved what possible questions might arise out of it.
Election Commission bound to respond positively
First and foremost is, what might be the conceivable reasons for Chief Minister KCR to prefer a dissolution and go for early poll as reported? Then, “Why Not” KCR recommends to dissolve and seek fresh mandate? It is absolutely and unequivocally CM KCR’s prerogative as Chief Minister enjoying undisputable majority in the Assembly, to recommend for dissolution and when he prefers it, he will take decision at appropriate time of his choice.
For instance, the promises that are being made by one of the opposition parties that was in power in the state for most of the time, that they would waive the agriculture loans to a tune of Rs 2 lakhs in one go, double the Aasara pensions, grant multiple pensions, give unemployment allowance, reduce the age limit for pensions etc. if voted to power are ridiculous. Whether the financial implications were worked out before announcing is a million dollar question. In 2009 elections also the same party made false promises, won the elections and were in power for a full five-year term without fulfilling them.
If with these copious promises the voter is carried away and misled and the lengthy time gap before the elections are held in routine course becomes advantageous to political parties who announce them, an unfortunate but highly unlikely situation might arise, wherein a dishonest and unprincipled party could come to power. Then the result would be hindrance to Bangaru Telangana.
What should happen to the welfare and development of Telangana? What should happen to the irrigation projects? What should happen to Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya? What should happen to the Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bhima? And umpteen other such schemes and programmes… After all Telangana was achieved after a prolonged struggle and has to make a long journey.
The Government of Telangana did a lot for the welfare and development of people. There is of course lot more to be done. Power problems have been overcome and the state is proceeding towards surplus power and will it be possible if other than TRS is in power? What about taking further forward the industrial policy of single window? To keep the farming community harmoniously by strengthening further the Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bhima schemes we need a visionary governance of KCR. Who will further strengthen rural economy in the absence of TRS government? And many more like this.
Will these so called self-proclaimed parties and its leaders be able to understand even an iota of the irrigation projects? Do they know how much water will be available in any of the projects? Will they be able to understand the intricacies of river water management and from where to where water flows etc.? Should this be allowed? Never of Course!!! In a democracy great individuals with righteous indignation should raise above every level and see to it that people’s interests are protected come what may. That may be precisely what KCR thinking looks like.
Against this background, the question is, when and who can dissolve the Assembly? Assembly can be dissolved when the leader of the majority of the ruling party makes a recommendation to the Governor. The prerogative and timing entirely rests with leader of the majority and he or she has absolute right to do so and none can question. If the news of dissolution that appear in media in the recent past has any credibility, then, Chief Minister Telangana has absolute right to recommend to the Governor, if he wishes to do so without assigning any reason. KCR has the trust and confidence of huge majority of legislature and hence can recommend to the governor of the state to dissolve the assembly and go for fresh polls.
After the Assembly is dissolved, elections are to be held to constitute the next Assembly. The prerogative of announcing the dates and conducting the elections belongs to the Election Commission who has a timetable on the basis of which elections are held after the Assembly stands dissolved. The Prime Minister has no role in this and does not fit into the process constitutionally. Probably those who pose doubts may be thinking that PM might influence the Election Commission and see to that the elections are not held as desired and expected by KCR. But what benefit does the PM get by this? And why should he resort to this?
As per the Constitution, not more than six months must lapse before two sessions of Legislature. This means that the Election Commission has no alternative and is bound to hold the elections such that a new government can take office within six months of the dissolution of the previous Assembly. According to Article 172 of Constitution which specifies the term of Legislature, every Legislative Assembly of every State, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting.
The Gujarat example and the then decision of Election Commission cannot be quoted in the context of Telangana. The present PM while CM of Gujarat, consequent to riots of 2002 supposed to be the worst ever in India's troubled history, and at a time when BJP Governments were in control in both New Delhi and Ahmedabad, decided to dissolve Assembly on July 19, 2002 and seek fresh mandate of people.
The EC took the view that although Article 174 of the Constitution required the election to be held within six months from the last session of the dissolved Assembly, this was not possible because the State was still in turmoil, the electoral rolls were not ready, and the electoral machinery needed reinforcement. However when President referred the matter to Supreme Court it held that the six months within which elections were to be held was from the date of dissolution of the Assembly.
This thus holds good, in the case of Telangana also and if CM takes a decision to dissolve Assembly sometime in September, as has been reported in media, the elections are bound to be conducted before March 2019. However, since elections are due sometime before December 2018 for states of Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Election Commission of India has no option or alternate except to hold elections in Telangana too simultaneously, if CM KCR prefers a dissolution of Assembly and seeks a fresh mandate, couple of months earlier than scheduled.