Curious call on Gujarat poll

Posted October 16, 2017

Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said on Thursday that while the panel had requests from Himachal Pradesh to hold elections before harsh winter set in, the Gujarat government had requested that it be allowed to finish several relief and rehabilitation works following floods in the state, before the code of conduct was enforced.

The opposition BJP in Himachal Pradesh has filed a complaint against the Congress government with Election Commission of India regarding the violation of the model code of conduct. Usually when elections are due within a period of six months, the states are combined and a joint announcement is made.

The model code comes into force the day polls are announced and remains till the poll process is over. He further said that EC's delay was a fundamental assault on a level playing field.

The Election Commission, however, did not announce other by-elections to fill up four vacant seats in the Lok Sabha and the vacancies in other Assemblies, including one in Madhya Pradesh itself for the Mungawali seat which was lying vacant after the death of Congress MLA Mahendra Singh Kalukhera on September 11.

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".

The term of the current Assemblies in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat expires in January 2018. "Recently, we got a letter seeking more time", he said.

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

Jagat Prakash Nadda, who is regarded as the strongest candidate in the BJP for the chief minister's post, started out as a student leader in 1975 when he joined the then Sampurna Kranti (total revolution) movement started by Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

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.

"But these were not conducted in two states simultaneously", he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too defended the EC's decision.