Himachal to go to polls on Nov 12
Gujarat dates not announced
New Delhi: Himachal Pradesh will go to polls on November 12, the Election Commission said on Friday, but did not announce the poll schedule for Gujarat citing past precedence.
Addressing a press conference here, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the counting of votes for Himachal Pradesh polls will take place on December 8 and elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure maximum participation of voters in the “festival of democracy”.
In the elections to the 68-member assembly with over 55 lakh eligible voters, the BJP will seek to overturn the three-decade convention of no ruling party returning to power by defeating the main opposition Congress in the hill state.
However, the Commission refrained from announcing the poll schedule for the Gujarat assembly which has a tenure till February 18, 2023.
“The Election Commission goes by convention in announcing poll schedules. It has decided to go by the convention which was last followed,” Kumar told reporters when asked about keeping the announcement for Gujarat in abeyance.
Kumar asserted that polls in one state will not affect elections in the other as “there is a gap of 40 days” in the qualifying dates of the state assemblies of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The term of the Himachal Pradesh assembly ends on January 8, 2023.
However, it is still possible to hold Gujarat elections in the November-December period so that the votes could be counted on the same day as was the case in 2017.
Some opposition leaders pointed out that announcing Gujarat elections later could allow the incumbent government to roll out more welfare schemes before the model code of conduct kicks in.
“Obviously this has been done to give more time to the PM to make some mega promises & carry out more inaugurations. Not at all surprising,” AICC General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said.
In 2017, the Commission had announced elections to Himachal Pradesh on October 12 and to Gujarat on October 25. The counting of votes was held on December 18.
According to the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh on Friday, the notification for the election will be issued on October 17 and the last date for filing of nominations will be October 25.
The scrutiny of nominations will be held on October 27 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be October 29.
Kumar said the polls will be held on November 12 and the counting of votes will be held on December 8.
“When we come for Gujarat we will tell you this,” Kumar said when asked whether the counting of votes for Gujarat will also be held on December 8.
The CEC also cited weather in Himachal Pradesh as one of the reasons for the early announcement of elections in the hill state.
Over 55 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise for 68 assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh.
There are 1.86 lakh first-time voters, 1.22 lakh aged 80-plus and 1,184 voters who are above 100 years of age.
Himachal Pradesh has a 68-member assembly and the BJP had won a clear majority by winning 44 seats in the 2017 elections. The Congress managed to win 21 seats, Independents bagged two seats and the CPI(M) emerged victorious on one seat.
In percentage terms, the BJP won 48.79 per cent of the total valid votes, followed by the Congress (41.68 per cent) and Independents (6.34 per cent).
The BJP and the Congress have given alternate governments in the hill state for over three decades.