Assembly elections

Not announcing dates for Gujarat polls creates ‘ground of suspicion’, says former EC chief

The Congress also attacked the decision and said it would help the prime minister announce new sops when he visits Gujarat for a rally on Monday.

Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi on Thursday expressed suspicion over the Election Commission’s decision to not announce dates for Gujarat’s Assembly elections on the same day it announced dates for Himachal Pradesh. The scheduled visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Gujarat next week creates a “ground of suspicion”, he told The Hindu.

The Congress has also attacked the decision, alleging that the Bharatiya Janata Party government put pressure on the Commission, so that Modi can make more announcements for the people of Gujarat at his rally on October 16.

The Election Commission on Thursday said Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh would be held on November 9, with counting of votes on December 18, but it did not announce dates for the Gujarat elections.

The announcement of election dates brings the Model Code of Conduct into effect both in the state and for the Centre, in terms of announcements of programmes and schemes. The code has, therefore, not come into effect in Gujarat yet.

“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,” Quraishi was quoted as saying. Modi will visit Bhat village near Gandhinagar next week, as part of a high-pitch election campaign.

“The Model Code of Conduct paralyses administration, governance and other works. It goes against the spirit of simultaneous elections,” Quraishi said.

Normally, the Election Commission holds elections for states simultaneously if their Assembly terms are due to end within six months of each other. It also announces the dates for such elections simultaneously.

Defending the decision, Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti said: “Gujarat poll schedules are not announced right now due to the existing rules on time limit [46 days] for holding elections. But it will take place before December 18, to ensure that Himachal Pradesh election results do not impact the Gujarat elections.”

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