Himachal elections to be held on Nov. 9
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 Thursday. Interestingly, the schedule for the Gujarat Assembly polls was not announced, and this drew angry reactions from the Congress, which alleged that the Narendra Modi government was putting pressure on the EC to delay announcing dates for the crucial state.
The Congress suspects the dates will be announced after Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes some “more electoral promises”.
It may be recalled that even before the commission could announce the poll dates, BJP president Amit Shah had declared “on record” that the Gujarat elections would be held in December. Virtually working on similar lines, the EC indicated Assembly elections in Gujarat would be held before December 18.
The BJP had drawn severe criticism from the Opposition parties after Mr Shah said the elections in Gujarat would be held in the first week of December.
media, chief election commissioner A.K. Joti said: “This is being done to ensure that the voting pattern of one state doesn’t affect the other state... The polling in Gujarat will be held before December 18 (when the Himachal Pradesh results are announced).”
He added that elections in the two states were not being held simultaneously to ensure that 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 tenure of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly ends on January 7, 2018, and that of the Gujarat Assembly on January 22. Citing precedents, the CEC said elections to the two states were announced separately in the past too, including in 1993, 1994 and 2002.
The Congress on its part alleged the Modi government was “putting pressure on the EC to delay announcing the dates for Gujarat”. Congress communications chief Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “It is abundantly clear that the Modi government has pressured the EC to postpone the announcement of election dates in Gujarat, but the people of Gujarat have made up their minds to get rid of the BJP.”
He further alleged that the announcement of the Gujarat Assembly polls was not being done as Mr Modi will give attractive “jumlas” on October 16.
In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress will see an intense battle with the BJP. In the 68-member Assembly of the hill state, the ruling Congress has 35 members and the BJP has 28, while there are four Independents. One seat is vacant.
Incumbent chief minister Virbhadra Singh is fighting for a seventh term with Congress vice-chief Rahul Gandhi having declared him the next CM candidate of the party as well.
The BJP will be fighting on the back of a sweeping Lok Sabha victory in 2014 in the state, and landslide wins in the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand polls in March.
Himachal Pradesh will be the second state after Goa with 100 per cent VVPAT (paper trail of votes) coverage.