Hi­machal elec­tion on Novem­ber 9

Gujarat poll to be held be­fore Dec. 18

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - Devesh K. Pandey

The Hi­machal Pradesh Assem­bly poll will be held in a sin­gle phase on Novem­ber 9, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion an­nounced on Thurs­day.

How­ever, the elec­toral body did not de­clare the sched­ule for elec­tion in Gujarat, where the Assem­bly term is to ex­pire on Jan­uary 22 next year.

Chief Elec­tion Com­mis- sioner A.K. Joti said re­sults for the Hi­machal Pradesh poll would be de­clared on De­cem­ber 18. Even though he did not an­nounce the dates for the Assem­bly elec­tion in Gujarat, he said it would be held be­fore De­cem­ber 18 to en­sure that “the vot­ing pat­tern of one State does not af­fect the other State.”

The term of the 68-mem­ber Hi­machal Pradesh Assem­bly ends on Jan­uary 7, about 15 days ahead of the Gujarat House.

With the an­nounce­ment of the elec­tion sched­ule, the model code of con­duct for Hi­machal Pradesh comes into force im­me­di­ately. It will be ap­pli­ca­ble for all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the State and the Cen­tral gov­ern­ments on de­ci­sions re­lated to the State.

Mr. Joti said that for the first time, 136 all-women-man­aged polling sta­tions were be­ing set up in Hi­machal Pradesh, with two for each con­stituency.

Former Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner S.Y. Qu­raishi said the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sion to not an­nounce the dates for Assem­bly polls for Gujarat even as it an­nounced the dates for Hi­machal Pradesh, cre­ated a “ground of sus­pi­cion” as Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is ex­pected to visit Gujarat next week.

The term of both the Gujarat and Hi­machal as­sem­blies come to an end in Jan­uary 2018. The model code of con­duct comes into ef­fect the mo­ment the EC an­nounces the poll dates, bar­ring the Gov­ern­ment from an­nounc­ing any new scheme or project.

Mr. Qu­raishi said the EC’s de­ci­sion also went against the “spirit of si­mul­ta­ne­ous polls.”

‘Un­for­tu­nate ac­tion’

“What were the com­pul­sions of EC to an­nounce the poll dates for Hi­machal and not Gujarat? They must have some good rea­sons to jus­tify this. Mr. Modi’s visit to Gujarat next week cre­ates a ground of sus­pi­cion and it’s un­for­tu­nate,” he said.

Mr. Modi is ex­pected to ad­dress booth level work­ers of the BJP at Bhat vil­lage on the out­skirts of Gand­hi­na­gar next week. “I am quite sur­prised by the EC’s de­ci­sion as the Gujarat Assem­bly also ex­pires around the same time as Hi­machal Pradesh. Why didn’t they club it?” said Mr. Qu­raishi.

Im­pact on gov­er­nance

He added that dif­fer­ent sched­ules would also im­pact gov­er­nance. “The re­sults of both the States will be an­nounced to­gether as the re­sults of one State if an­nounced be­fore, could in­flu­ence the re­sults in an­other. The model code of con­duct paral­y­ses ad­min­is­tra­tion, gov­er­nance and other works. It goes against the spirit of si­mul­ta­ne­ous elec­tions,” he said.

Af­ter an­nounc­ing the poll date, the EC dis­cussed se­cu­rity is­sues with Home Min­istry of­fi­cials. A se­nior Home Min­istry of­fi­cial con­formed that the EC did not con­vene any meet­ing of se­cu­rity forces prior to its an­nounce­ment.

“Be­fore elec­tions are an­nounced, the EC asks the Home Min­istry about the avail­abil­ity of forces and their de­ploy­ment pat­tern. No such meet­ing was held be­fore [Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment]. EC called a meet­ing af­ter the dates were an­nounced,” said the of­fi­cial.

The of­fi­cial ex­plained since both the States were “peace­ful”, the re­quire­ment of a large force was not de­sired. “Req­ui­si­tion for cen­tral forces have come from both the States and we will de­cide soon,” said an­other Home Min­istry of­fi­cial.

PTI

Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner A.K. Joti an­nounc­ing the sched­ule in New Delhi on Thurs­day.

VI­JAY SONEJI ■

Pole po­si­tion: Naren­dra Modi dur­ing a road­show in Gujarat on Oc­to­ber 8.

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