Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

Himachal to vote on Nov 9, no dates for Gujarat yet

New Delhi: Himachal Pradesh will go to polls on a single day on November 9 to elect a new assembly, the Election Commission announced on Thursday without finalising a schedule for Gujarat, drawing sharp criticism from the Congress which accused the Centre of putting pressure on the poll panel.

The result from Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh will be known on December 18

The result from Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh will be known on December 18.

Announcing the schedule, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said filing of nominations will open on October 16 and end on October 23. Scrutiny will be done the next day and the last day for withdrawal of candidates will be October 26.

The vote count in Himachal Pradesh will be taken up on December 18 after completion of the election process in Gujarat, which the BJP has ruled for almost 20 years.

Joti said the model code of conduct (MCC) in Himachal Pradesh, which has a little over 49 lakh eligible voters and 7,479 polling stations, comes into effect immediately under which the state government can’t take policy decisions. Similarly, the central government can’t announce policy decisions regarding Himachal Pradesh.

The term of the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly ends on January 7, 2018 and that of the 182-member Gujarat assembly on January 22. Of the Himachal constituencies, 17 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and three for Scheduled Tribes.

Reporters plied the Chief Election Commissioner with questions about why election dates for Gujarat were not announced on Thursday. Was it devised to give some more time to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce or lay foundation for more development projects in his home state before the Model Code of Conduct comes into effect, mediapersons asked.

However, Joti said the Prime Minister’s scheduled rallies in Gujarat was not a factor and cited technical and other reasons for conducting the Himachal elections in mid-November and deferring the Gujarat polls for some time.

Joti said that during the EC delegation visit to Himachal Pradesh on September 25-26, the state administration requested the EC to conduct elections by mid-November to avoid hardships to voters in some districts where snowfall could start in December. It is one of the reasons that elections are being held in Himachal before November 15.

On the other hand, he said, the Gujarat administration requested the EC to defer the polls as rehabilitation work was on in the flood affected areas apart from restoration work on the Narmada canal that has breached at 17 places.

Besides, Joti said, the term of Gujarat Assembly would end on January 22 and so the Commission has more time to conclude the election process. The Himachal Assembly’s term ends on January 7.

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