Arun Jaitley says government is in favour of simultaneous polls, but holding 2019 LS elections together with states unlikely

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in an exclusive interview on Saturday with Network18, said that he does not see the possibility of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh being held together.

However, Jaitley also stated that the government is in favour of holding simultaneous elections. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview spoke out in favour of simultaneous elections. He also asked NDA leaders to work towards creating an environment in favour of the move. President Ram Nath Kovind also, in his address to both Houses of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget Session, stressed the need for a 'sustained debate' on simultaneous elections and said that frequent elections impose a huge burden on human resources, and impede the development process.

File image of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

File image of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

To a question on whether elections to some Assemblies may be held along with the upcoming Lok Sabha election, Jaitley said, "I do not see the possibility." He subsequently added, "The government wants simultaneous elections, but it is not necessary that dates will be advanced for that."

He further stated that the Constitution would not permit pushing back of state elections for this purpose. "Till the time the Constitution is changed, and there is consensus on the issue, the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections will not overlap. And going by the reactions the issue has evoked, it seems people (Opposition) are not in favour of any such move."

During the interview, Jaitley also touched upon the issue of rising oil prices, and said, "We have to see to what extent the crude oil prices rise. Today crude oil prices have touched USD 70 per barrel. It is in the outer periphery of our comfort threshold.” His statement comes in a context where the Chief Economic Adviser has stated that a $10 increase in oil prices may slow down growth by 0.2-0.4 percent and increase inflation by 0.3-0.4 percent.

“I want it to remain below this level. If it goes above this level, since we are a net buyer, it will have an impact on inflation," the finance minister said.


Updated Date: Feb 03, 2018 21:09 PM

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