Hi­machal as­sem­bly polls on Nov 9; Cong ques­tions de­lay in Guj

Financial Chronicle - - FUNDAMENTALS, POLITICS -

AS­SEM­BLY elec­tions in Hi­machal Pradesh will be held in a sin­gle phase on Novem­ber 9 and the re­sults will be de­clared on De­cem­ber 18, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion an­nounced on Wed­nes­day.

The sched­ule for Gu­jarat will be an­nounced sep­a­rately but as­sem­bly elec­tions in the state will be held be­fore De­cem­ber 18, Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner AK Joti said at a press con­fer­ence. “This is be­ing done to en­sure that the vot­ing pat­tern of one state does not af­fect the other state... Polling in Gu­jarat will be held be­fore De­cem­ber 18,” he said.

While the ten­ure of the Hi­machal as­sem­bly ends on Jan­uary 7, 2018, the Gu­jarat as­sem­bly term ends on Jan­uary 22. “The Model Code of Con­duct comes into force im­me­di­ately,” Joti said. The Model Code of Con­duct will be ap­pli­ca­ble for Hi­machal Pradesh as well as for the Union gov­ern­ment in mat­ters re­lated to the state. The poll process in Hi­machal Pradesh will start with the is­sue of the gazette no­ti­fi­ca­tion on Oc­to­ber 23 when can­di­dates can start fil­ing their nominations.

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

Hi­machal Pradesh will be the sec­ond state after Goa with 100 per cent VVPAT (pa­per trail of votes) cov­er­age. The VVPAT ma­chines will be de­ployed along with EVMs in all the 7,521 polling sta­tions, in­clud­ing 42 aux­il­iary polling sta­tions at re­mote places. Joti said VVPAT ma­chines from one polling booth in each of the 68 con­stituen­cies will be tal­lied with EVM re­sults to check the vote count.

In a first for the state, the EC will set up 136 all­women man­aged polling booths in Hi­machal. Each con­stituency will have two women. The Com­mis­sion has also in­creased the size of the VVPAT pa­per trail screen, where vot­ers can see who they have voted for. Joti said photo elec­toral rolls will be used for Hi­machal polls and photo iden­tity cards have been is­sued to all vot­ers. He said voter slips will be dis­trib­uted to each voter in the state seven days be­fore the polls along with a voter guide brochure.

The CEC said voter as­sis­tance booths will also be set up and the size of the stan­dard­ised vot­ing com­part­ment will also be in­creased from 24 inches to 30 inches, keep­ing in mind the in­tro­duc­tion of pa­per trail ma­chines. Each can­di­date con­test­ing the poll 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 elec­tion ex­penses to the re­turn­ing of­fi­cer within 30 days after the dec­la­ra­tion of re­sults.

The poll panel will also use so­cial me­dia in these elec­tions and has al­ready sen­si­tised the elec­tion staff in this re­gard as well as on the is­sue of paid news and pre-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of ads and bulk SMSes. The EC will en­sure timely pay­ment of all goods and ser­vices through e-pay­ment gate­way for all elec­tion re­lated du­ties in the hill state.

Asked why elec­tions in Gu­jarat had not been an­nounced si­mul­ta­ne­ously, he said the im­po­si­tion of the Model Code with im­me­di­ate ef­fect would stop all gov­ern­ment work and there was no need to pro­long it be­yond the re­quired pe­riod. The CEC said elec­tions to the two states were an­nounced sep­a­rately in the past too, in­clud­ing in 1993, 1994 and 2002. Be­sides the is­sues of avail­abil­ity of cen­tral forces and the fes­tive sea­son, the Gu­jarat gov­ern­ment had told the EC that re­lief works were on in the state fol­low­ing the July floods, he said.

The Congress too ques­tioned the de­lay and al­leged that it was to en­able PM Modi to act as a “false Santa Claus to of­fer sops and use jum­las” (rhetoric) dur­ing his Oc­to­ber 16 visit to the state. The model code of con­duct would have come into im­me­di­ate ef­fect in Gu­jarat had the poll sched­ule been an­nounced, it said.

“It is now clear that the Modi gov­ern­ment and the BJP are putting pres­sure on the EC to de­fer an­nounce­ment of Gu­jarat poll along with Hi­machal, to suit their po­lit­i­cal ends”

AK Joti, Su­nil Arora and O P Rawat (L) at the press con­fer­ence in New Delhi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.