Himachal Pradesh elections on Nov 9, results on Dec 18
Poll code comes into force; EC says dates for Gujarat elections ‘soon’
Elections to the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly will be held on November 9, and results will be declared on December 18, the Election Commission announced on Thursday.
Himachal will see 7,479 polling stations being set up to facilitate the over 49 lakh voters to cast their votes. The fact that some regions, especially Lahaul-Spiti become snow bound during winter months, influenced the Commission’s decision in finalising the polling schedule for Himachal Pradesh.
Though the panel did not announce the schedule for State elections in Gujarat, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said the dates would be known “soon” and that the poll process would be completed by December 18.
The Commission said the decision to count the votes in HP in December after polling Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti announces the schedule for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, at a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday
in Gujarat was taken to ensure that the poll outcome in one State does not affect polling trends in the other. The term of the current Assemblies in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat expires in January 2018.
The EC said a similar procedure for polling and counting was followed in both States in
2012, when the previous Assembly elections were held.
Poll code in force
The Commission has set October 23 as the last date for candidates to file their nominations while the deadline for withdrawal of candidature is on October 26. The model code of conduct comes into immediate effect in Himachal Pradesh. The code bars candidates from using unfair means to influence voters.
All polling stations in the State will use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) for the Assembly elec- tions. This would enhance the transparency and credibility of the election process, the CEC said.
The Commission also announced that, on a pilot basis, the VVPAT from one polling station in each Assembly con- stituency will be randomly se- lected to count VVPAT paper-slips for verification of the results obtained from the Control Unit.
Each candidate contesting the election will be allowed a maximum expenditure of ₹28 lakh and will have to furnish accounts of expenditure within 30 days of declaration of results. All political parties sponsoring candidates for the elections are required to main- tain day-to-day accounts of campaign expenses and submit the accounts to the EC within 75 days of the comple- tion of the elections, the Com- mission announced. The Congress expressed surprise at the Election Commission’s decision to not announce the poll dates for Gujarat along with Himachal Pradesh.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Narendra Modi government appears to be putting pressure on the poll panel to defer the announcement of the Gujarat elections, which should have been held along with Himachal.
He alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed Gujarat visit on October 16 was to announce sops and jhumlas that his party didn’t implement for the 22 consecutive years it has been in power. “The onus lies on the Commission to ensure a level-playing field by announcing Gujarat election dates and imposing Code of Conduct immediately,” Surjewala said.
BJP General Secretary Bhupender Yadav denied the Congress’ charges and said there was no question of his party putting pressure on the EC.