Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - NATION - Sm­riti Kak Ra­machan­dran let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

NEW DELHI: The elec­tion com­mis­sion (EC) on Thurs­day de­fended its de­ci­sion of not an­nounc­ing the sched­ule f or the up­com­ing as­sem­bly polls in Gu­jarat si­mul­ta­ne­ously with Hi­machal Pradesh, by point­ing out that the state govern­ment needed more time for car­ry­ing out re­lief and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work for flood af­fected peo­ple.

The poll panel said the Hi­machal Pradesh ad­min­is­tra­tion on the other hand, pressed for com­plet­ing the polling ex­er­cise be­fore mid-novem­ber, when snow fall is in the higher reaches.

The Con­gress how­ever al­leged that t he BJP govern­ment ap­peared to be “putting pres­sure” on the EC to de­fer the an­nounce­ment of elec­tions in Gu­jarat to “suit” its po­lit­i­cal ends. The party al­leged that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the model code of con­duct (MCC) has been de­ferred to al­low PM Naren­dra Modi’s rally. “Rea­son is that PM is vis­it­ing Gu­jarat on Oc­to­ber 16, as false Santa Claus to an­nounce sops and jum­las that he didn’t im­ple­ment for 22 yrs,” tweeted Con­gress’ chief spokesper­son Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala.

CEC AK Joti, how­ever re­futed th­ese al­le­ga­tions and said the state govern­ment sought more time as it did not want an un­usu­ally long pe­riod of MCC. Cit­ing an of­fice mem­o­ran­dum by the law min­istry in April 2001, he said MCC should not ex­tend beyond 46 days. “In 2012, the MCC for Gu­jarat and Hi­machal started from Oc­to­ber 3. In Hi­machal the elec­tions were held on De­cem­ber 4, but in Gu­jarat polls were held in two phases - on De­cem­ber 13 and 17. The count­ing was done on De­cem­ber 20. So from Oc­to­ber 3 to De­cem­ber 24 when the elec­tion process con­cluded, it is 83 days, which is un­rea­son­able. We have to be rea­son­able to state gov­ern­ments,” Joti said.

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