Fathers, sons, veterans, rising stars: Key names in Himachal Pradesh elections

Frederick Owens
October 16, 2017

The Congress has accused the ruling BJP of pressuring the Election Commission to delay announcing dates for the Gujarat assembly elections, alleging this was done to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "announce sops" at a mega rally planned in the state capital Gandhinagar next week. Last week, the Election Commission said polls in Himachal Pradesh would be held on 9 November but, in a departure from the norm, did not announce the dates for Gujarat.

Singhvi said that within 10 minutes of the poll panel's presser, the BJP government in Gujarat announced sops worth hundreds of crores.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja said that it is natural that questions would be raised over the EC's decision.

He said Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have gone to elections together since 1998 except in 2002-03 when Gujarat was hit by riots.

Referring to the Election Commission stating that it is supposed to conduct elections in a state within 46 days, Singhvi said this time limit has been broken in the past on numerous occasions including in elections in Delhi, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Arunachal and Andhra Pradesh.

This means the model code of conduct is now in force in Himachal Pradesh, but this is not the case for Gujarat, since the Gujarat election dates have not been announced yet.

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AAP leader and former journalist Ashutosh said with the EC's decision to not announce the Gujarat polls date, the "autonomy" of the EC is "seriously compromised".

"It is now clear that the Modi Government and the BJP are putting pressure on the EC to defer announcement of Gujarat election alongwith Himachal, to suit its political ends", Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala alleged in a video message put out on his Twitter account.

Not so, said Mr Prasad, stating, "We studied the poll dates of Himachal and Gujarat and all I want to tell you is that in 2007, Himachal's poll date was 20/10/ 2007 and Gujarat's first phase was on 21/11/2007".

The term of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly ends on January 22 and that of the 68-member Himachal Assembly on January 7.

However, CEC AK Joti refuted these allegations, saying that "the state government had sought more time as it did not want an unusually longer period of the model code of conduct".

He said the announcement had also cast "a serious shadow of suspicion on the working of the Election Commission".

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