No poll dates for Gujarat, controversy galore

New Delhi: In what can be termed as a controversial decision, the Election Commission (EC) broke from convention on Thursday as it did not simultaneously announce polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, even though the terms of the two state Assemblies expire within two weeks of each other.

It is worthwhile pointing out that Former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said that this raised “serious questions,” while the Congress, the leading Opposition party in Gujarat, alleged that the BJP had pushed the EC to delay the announcement.

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Himachal Pradesh will vote on November 9 and election results will be declared on December 18. Gujarat polls, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A K Joti said, will be announced later, but he added voting will wind up before Himachal results are declared.

The EC normally holds elections together in states where the incumbent governments are completing their five-year term within six months. The poll dates for these states are announced simultaneously.

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“This raises some serious questions. The terms of the two state Assemblies are almost coinciding. So why should the EC wait to announce dates for Gujarat?” asked former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi

Defending the decision to announce Gujarat elections later, Joti told reporters that this was done to avoid an unreasonably long imposition of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in the state.

 

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“The reason (to delay announcement) is clear. The BJP is scared of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and the party’s campaign highlighting the failures of the BJP government in the last 22 years. It has realised that the people of Gujarat are itching to overthrow the BJP,” Randeep Surjewala, head of the Congress’s communication department, said.