- KCR said the Telangana assembly would be dissolved before schedule
- OP Rawat said KCR's comments on elections are uncalled for
- KCR has been pushing for early polls to keep his voter base together
The Election Commission on Friday hit out at Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao discussing the possibility of early elections in the state. The top election body, however, also indicated that polls in the southern state, India's newest, could be held at the end of the year, along with other states.
Mr Rao, or KCR as he is popularly known, had announced on Thursday that the Telangana assembly would be dissolved eight months ahead of schedule to clear the way for early elections.
"We strongly condemn the way the Chief Minister of Telangana announced the schedule. KCR's comments on elections are preposterous and uncalled for," Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat told NDTV. "We are mandated by the Supreme Court to conduct elections at the earliest possible and there should be no delay," he added.
KCR's move to go for early polls in Telangana was widely anticipated for days. Though the election would have been held in June 2019, KCR reportedly wanted to delink the state polls from the national election and ensure that the focus stayed on his role as an architect of the state rather than on Prime Minister Narendra Modi or on the Congress.
Officially, KCR cited "political fragility" in the state for wanting early polls and expesed .
"As far as I know, the poll process may begin in October and get completed in November. The results may be announced in the first week of December," he said, claiming he had spoken with the Chief Election Commissioner.
Mr Rawat said: "We'll assess if Telangana elections can be held with other four states. Any astrological predictions (over dates) made by anyone is notwithstanding".
Responding to a Congress assertion that early polls would not be possible because the electoral rolls, or voters' lists, were not revised, Mr Rawat said: "Though revision of rolls started on 1 September, that is not an hindrance to hold polls for Telangana." He added that the election body had enough EVMs and VVPATs (paper trail to verify votes cast by people) to conduct the Telangana polls.
"As per Supreme Court directions, polls will have to be conducted within six months of dissolution and even that also, instead of waiting for six months, polls will have to be conducted on the first possible occasion," he said.