Himachal election on November 9
Gujarat poll to be held before Dec. 18
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.”
“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.
Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Joti announcing the schedule in New Delhi on Thursday.
Pole position: Narendra Modi during a roadshow in Gujarat on October 8.