New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) yesterday announced elections in Himachal Pradesh, but held off on making an announcement for Gujarat. Voting for the 68-seat Himachal Pradesh Assembly will take place on Nov.9 and the results will be declared on Dec.18.
It will be a big test for the incumbent Congress, just as its principal political rival, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will be looking to wrest power and expand its national electoral footprint in the northern State.
“The model code of conduct comes into force immediately,” Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti told reporters while announcing the poll schedule.
Himachal Pradesh would be the second State, after Goa earlier this year, to use a 100% paper audit trail or VVPAT. Also, on a pilot basis, to enhance transparency, one polling station in each Assembly constituency will be randomly selected for counting.
The EC’s decision not to announce polling dates for Gujarat may be potentially controversial, especially since Joti implicitly signalled that the announcement was imminent—he told reporters that polling in Gujarat would be completed before Dec.18.
While the term of current Assembly in Himachal ends on Jan.7 that of Gujarat ends on Jan.22. The opposition believes that this gives the incumbent BJP government in Gujarat an unfair advantage — now that they know that an announcement is imminent, they could use the intervening period to launch new schemes.