The Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh was scheduled for November, earlier than in Gujarat, because of the probability of snowfall in the northern state, Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti told ANI in an interview on Monday. He said flood-relief work in Gujarat was also one of the factors that had delayed the Election Commission in announcing the poll dates for Gujarat.

The Election Commission was criticised for announcing the poll dates for Himachal Pradesh, but not Gujarat. This brought the Model Code of Conduct into effect only in the Congress-ruled state. The Himachal Pradesh elections will be held on November 9 and the results will be declared on December 18.

“When we went to Himachal Pradesh, the State Election Commission there, political parties and the state administration had said that three districts – Kinnaur, Lahaul Spiti and Chamba – are likely to experience snowfall,” Joti told ANI. “Therefore, a request was made to conduct the elections in early November so that voters do not get affected and can cast their votes.”

The chief election commissioner reiterated that the poll schedule in Gujarat will be planned in a way that the outcome of the elections in Himachal Pradesh will not affect voting in Gujarat. He also said that as the two were not adjoining states, there was nothing wrong in scheduling the elections in Himachal Pradesh before Gujarat.

“The day we make the announcement, the Model Code of Conduct is applied from that day till the poll is over,” he said. “If the states shared a border, it would have been an issue, but with Gujarat, the situation is very different.”

He also said that the same officials who have been carrying out relief and restoration work since the recent floods in Gujarat will be deployed for services during the elections in the state. “So once the Model Code of Conduct is implemented, these government employees will have to leave all the revamping and start performing their duties in connection with the elections,” Joti explained.