Hi­machal Pradesh elec­tions on Nov 9, re­sults on Dec 18

Poll code comes into force; EC says dates for Gu­jarat elec­tions ‘soon’

The Hindu Business Line - - POLITICS - PTI

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.

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