EC is bound to respond positively
Perplexity over Telangana: Dissolution of state Assembly and early polls
Gossip…gossip…everywhere gossip regarding the early polls in Telangana State. Some Newspapers went to the extent of even predicting the date of dissolution of the Telangana Assembly and the possible period of election. Whenever Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) visits New Delhi and meets the Prime Minister to pursue early approvals to 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 the pros and cons for both, dissolution of Assembly and early polls. And, if the Assembly is dissolved what possible questions might arise out of it.
First and foremost, what might be the conceivable reasons for Chief Minister KCR to prefer a dissolution and go for early polls, as reported? Then on the flip side, "Why Not?" KCR recommend to dissolve and seek fresh mandate? It is absolutely and unequivocally prerogative for KCR as Chief Minister, enjoying an undisputable majority in the Assembly, to recommend for dissolution and take a decision at the time of his choice.
In India, mesmerising the voter with false and impracticable promises is taken for granted. This has gone unchecked in the first general elections. Even the Constitutional body such as the Election Commission (EC) maintains silence in the prevention of the political parties from indulging in false promises. Consequently, it is the voter who becomes a victim of it. For instance, the promises that are being made by one of the opposition parties that were in power in the state for most of the time are 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 or misled and the lengthy time gap before the elections are held in routine course becoming 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 a 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 the Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya? What should happen to the Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bhima, and umpteen other such schemes and programs? 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 dealt with and the state is proceeding towards surplus power, so will it be possible if someone other than TRS is in power? What about taking forward the industrial policy of single window? To keep the farming community harmonious by strengthening the Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bhima schemes, we need the visionary governance of KCR. Who will further strengthen the rural economy in the absence of TRS government?
Will these so-called self-proclaimed parties and their 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? Would they be able to understand the intricacies of river water management or from where to where water flows? Should this be allowed? Never of Course!!! In a democracy, great individuals with righteous indignation should rise above every level and see to it that people's interests are protected, come what may. That may be precisely how KCR's 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 rest with the leader of the majority and he/she has the absolute right to do so with no one questioning. If the news of dissolution that appeared in media in the recent past has any credibility, then, Telangana CM has absolute right to recommend to the Governor, if he wishes to do so without providing any reason. KCR has the confidence of the huge majority of the legislature and hence can recommend to the Governor of the state to dissolve the Assembly thereby going for the 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. Those who pose doubts may be probably thinking that PM might influence the EC and ensure 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 between two sessions of Legislature. This means that the Election Commission has no alternative and is bound to hold the elections so 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 relevant decision of Election Commission cannot be quoted in the context of Telangana. The present PM, while being CM of Gujarat, consequent to the riots of 2002 which were supposed to be the worst ever in India's 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.
There seems a bright prospect in the case of Telangana as well and if CM decides 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 except to hold elections in Telangana simultaneously if KCR prefers a dissolution of Assembly and seeks a fresh mandate, couple of months earlier than scheduled.
(The author is Chief Public Relations Officer to Chief Minister of Telangana. The views expressed are strictly personal)