Hi­machal polls on Novem­ber 9, Gu­jarat be­fore De­cem­ber 18: EC

The New Indian Express - - NEWS - EX­PRESS NEWS SER­VICE @ New Delhi

THE long-awaited poll bu­gle blared on Thurs­day with the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion an­nounc­ing Novem­ber 9 as elec­tion day in Hi­machal Pradesh but with­hold­ing the dates for the Gu­jarat elec­tions.

The EC, how­ever, clar­i­fied that polling in Gu­jarat would be held be­fore De­cem­ber 18, the day the Hi­machal votes will be counted. Chief elec­tion com­mis­sioner AK Joti said Gu­jarat had sought more time to hold polls be­cause of flood re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work. “There was a heavy flood in Gu­jarat and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work started only in Septem­ber. About 35 vil­lages have been re­lo­cated. Re­cently, we got a let­ter seek­ing more time,” he said.

Avail­abil­ity of cen­tral forces and the year-end fes­tive sea­son were ad­di­tional rea­sons, Joti said. Sep­a­rate poll an­nounce­ments for the two states have been made ear­lier too — in 1993, 1994 and 2002.

Joti said the Gu­jarat polls would be sched­uled in such a way that the Hi­machal re­sults do not sway the vot­ing pat­tern. “The de­ci­sion to count votes in Hi­machal Pradesh in De­cem­ber af­ter polling in Gu­jarat was taken to en­sure the poll out­come in one state does not af­fect polling trends in the other.”

With the EC’s an­nounce­ment, the model code of con­duct has come into force in Hi­machal Pradesh. Oc­to­ber 23 is the last date for fil­ing nom­i­na­tions. The dead­line for with­drawal of can­di­da­ture is Oc­to­ber 26.

The term of the 182-mem­ber Gu­jarat As­sem­bly ends on Jan­uary 22 and that of the 68-mem­ber Hi­machal As­sem­bly on Jan­uary 7. In the Hi­machal As­sem­bly, the rul­ing Con­gress has 35 mem­bers while the strength of Op­po­si­tion BJP is 28.

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