Hi­machal polls on Novem­ber 9: EC

DNA (Delhi) - - NEWS - Manan Ku­mar manan.ku­mar@dnain­dia.net

Be­ly­ing spec­u­la­tions, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion on Thurs­day an­nounced elec­tions only for Hi­machal Pradesh, hold­ing back Gu­jarat’s sched­ule for a later date.

A sin­gle-phase elec­tion will be held for the 68 As­sem­bly con­stituen­cies of Hi­machal Pradesh on Novem­ber 9, while the count­ing of votes will be taken up on De­cem­ber 18, Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner Achal Ku­mar Joti said.

“This is be­ing done to en­sure that the vot­ing pat­tern of one state does not af­fect the other... polling in Gu­jarat will be held be­fore De­cem­ber 18 (when Hi­machal re­sults are an­nounced),” Joti said.

The term of the 182-mem­ber Gu­jarat As­sem­bly ends on Jan­uary 22, while the term of the 68-mem­ber Hi­machal Pradesh as­sem­bly ends 15 days be­fore, on Jan­uary 7.

Par­ry­ing ques­tions if the an­nounce­ment of Gu­jarat polls has been de­layed to ac­com­mo­date Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s rally likely to be held on Oc­to­ber 16, Joti said, “Prime Min­is­ter’s Gu­jarat visit is not a fac­tor at all.”

He said it has been done keep­ing in mind an ear­lier Pun­jab and Haryana High Court or­der and a sub­se­quent Law Min­istry or­der that there should ide­ally be 46 days of gap between the Model Code of Con­duct com­ing into ef­fect and the polling date.

“The im­po­si­tion of Model Code with im­me­di­ate ef­fect would stop all govern­ment work and there was no need to pro­long it beyond the re­quired pe­riod,” said Joti.

He added that elec­tions in two states — Hi­machal and Gu­jarat —were an­nounced sep­a­rately in the past too, in­clud­ing in 1993, 1994 and 2002.

It can be brought for­ward or post­poned by four or 5 days but can­not be too long or too short, ex­plained Joti, cit­ing Gu­jarat chief sec­re­tary’s re­quest for more time to re­pair roads, pro­vide re­lief and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion be­cause of floods in July and avail­abil­ity crunch of the Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces (CAPFs) as other rea­sons for de­lay in the an­nounce­ment.

Joti, flanked by Elec­tion Com­mis­sion­ers O P Rawat and Su­nil Arora, said the last date for fil­ing of nom­i­na­tions for Hi­machal Pradesh is Oc­to­ber 23. Af­ter scru­tiny on Oc­to­ber 24, the last date for with­drawal of nom­i­na­tions is Oc­to­ber 26, he said.

For the first time, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion is set­ting up 136 all-women-man­aged polling sta­tions in Hi­machal Pradesh, with each con­stituency hav­ing two all-women polling sta­tions.

VVPAT (vote ver­i­fi­able pa­per au­dit trail) ma­chines will be de­ployed along with EVMs in all the 7,521 polling sta­tions, in­clud­ing 42 aux­il­iary ones at re­mote places. One VVPAT from each con­stituency will be se­lected ran­domly to match its pa­per slips with the re­sults of the cor­re­spond­ing bal­lot unit.

This match­ing is be­ing done on a pi­lot ba­sis in th­ese elec­tions and will be in­creased in sub­se­quent elec­tions to put more faith among peo­ple about the fair­ness of elec­tion process, Joti said.

The Com­mis­sion has also in­creased the size of the VVPAT pa­per trail screen so that the vot­ers can eas­ily see if their vote has gone to their cho­sen can­di­date or party.

The CEC said voter as­sis­tance booth will also be set up and the size of the stan­dard­ised vot­ing com­part­ment will also be in­creased, keep­ing in mind the in­tro­duc­tion of pa­per trail ma­chines.

Each can­di­date will have to main­tain a sep­a­rate ac­count of poll ex­penses, which have been capped at a max­i­mum of Rs 28 lakh for Hi­machal Pradesh. How­ever, the can­di­date will have to sub­mit the ex­penses to the re­turn­ing of­fi­cer within 30 days af­ter the dec­la­ra­tion of re­sults.

Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner AK Joti, with com­mis­sioner Su­nil Arora

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