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Andhra split test for polls on time

New Delhi, Feb. 24: Parliament has okayed the split plan but the Election Commission and the Centre face a tough challenge: holding Lok Sabha and Assembly polls on schedule in a bifurcated Andhra Pradesh.

Although committed to holding elections in time for the Assembly before June, the government faces practical problems related to readjustment of constituencies. This could result in elections being held in undivided Andhra, sources told The Telegraph.

A proposal the government made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill — increased number of Assembly constituencies in both Telangana and the residual Andhra — may not be possible in the near future. An act of 2006 has frozen delimitation till after the 2031 census. Assembly polls in Andhra are due along with the Lok Sabha elections.

One practical problem of holding polls on schedule is that the Election Commission will take up to eight months for delimitation of SC/ST constituencies. Two, some 130 villages transferred to Andhra continue to lie in three tribal constituencies that now fall in Telangana.

“These villages have to be attached to the 121 Assembly constituency (Palasa under the Srikakulam Lok Sabha seat),” a senior official said. “But that will take time, so elections may have to be held in an undivided Andhra Pradesh as we are committed to holding elections in time.”

Elections, therefore, may be held to the existing 294 Assembly constituencies and 42 Lok Sabha seats in an undivided Andhra. Going by this, the “appointed day” for creating Telangana could be after the commission’s notification announcing the poll dates.

The Centre is seeking legal opinion on the bill before the President gives his assent. The Union cabinet is likely to clear the proposal for central rule in Andhra on Thursday, home ministry sources said.