Gu­jarat to be kept out of HP shadow

HP poll re­sults to be on hold for 40 days

The Free Press Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

The As­sem­bly elec­tions in Hi­machal Pradesh will be held on Novem­ber 9 but the re­sults will be an­nounced on De­cem­ber 18, si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the re­sults of the Gu­jarat As­sem­bly elec­tions. The dates of the polls in Gu­jarat will be de­clared "shortly," as was also done last time in 2012.

In 2012, Hi­machal went to polls on Novem­ber 4 and Gu­jarat in two phases, on De­cem­ber 13 and 17, while the re­sults in both states were an­nounced on De­cem­ber 20.

Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner Achal Ku­mar Joti gave a long ex­pla­na­tion at a press con­fer­ence why he was not an­nounc­ing the Gu­jarat As­sem­bly elec­tion dates but ul­ti­mately let it out that the Gu­jarat an­nounce­ment will be made "shortly," to en­sure that the out­come of the Hi­machal re­sults do not have an in­flu­ence on the vot­ing in Gu­jarat.

That is why the count­ing of votes in Hi­machal Pradesh on De­cem­ber 18, 40 days af­ter the polling.

The Gu­jarat elec­tions may be an­nounced as late as in the last week of Oc­to­ber to meet the 46-day cri­te­ria. Joti ex­plained the polling may be held as late as on De­cem­ber 16, two days be­fore the count­ing. The polling is most likely to be in a sin­gle phase across the state, but it could be between De­cem­ber 10 and 16, if held in two phases like last time.

The Hi­machal Pradesh and Gu­jarat As­sem­bly elec­tions will be the last to be con­ducted by Joti be­fore he re­tires as CEC on Jan­uary 23. A re­tired Gu­jarat cadre IAS of­fi­cer, he was el­e­vated as the CEC only on July 6.

He is cred­ited with the launch of then Chief Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi's Vi­brant Gu­jarat drive. Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner Om Prakash Rawat, a re­tired MP cadre IAS of­fi­cer who is the next in se­nior­ity, will also be re­tir­ing as CEC on De­cem­ber 2, 2018, af­ter start­ing and, maybe, com­plet­ing the As­sem­bly polls in Ra­jasthan, Mad­hya Pradesh and Ch­hat­tis­garh as his last act. The man at the helm as the CEC, who will con­duct the next Lok Sabha elec­tions, is Su­nil Arora, a re­tired Ra­jasthan cadre IAS of­fi­cer who be­came the Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner on Au­gust 31.

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