New Delhi: In a clear signal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, in an interview published in The Indian Express on Wednesday, ruled out the possibility of having early Lok Sabha elections and added that political consensus was a must for holding simultaneous elections.

“The PM has put forth an idea (of simultaneous elections) before the country. And he has welcomed a public debate on this. This issue will progress further only after a law is enacted and all parties extend support. The Election Commission will also have to hear it. Only then can this thing move forward," Shah said in the interview to The Indian Express.

He added that it could happen when political parties are united over it and that it ‘cannot be done secretively’ as it requires an amendment in the Representation of People’s Act (RPA) which will have to be tabled in the Parliament.

Shah’s comments come in the middle of the ongoing campaign for the crucial Karnataka elections and holds significance because there have been speculations about clubbing state polls scheduled later this year—including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan—by advancing general elections which as of now is likely to be scheduled during April-May.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at several public forums, has backed the idea of simultaneous elections particularly over the grounds that a lot of time is spent in conduct of polls and work gets stalled for long durations. In its manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had said it would look for ways and evolve a method to hold simultaneous polls in the country.

On its part, the Election Commission’s view has been that once there is political consensus and the relevant laws are passed, it will be in a position to conduct simultaneous polls after sufficient time is given to the poll watchdog to put in place all necessary preparations including Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Along with general elections next year, assembly elections for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha are also expected to take place along with it.

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