EC explains delinking polls in 2 states

EC explains delinking polls in 2 states

Dismissing the Opposition Congress’ criticism, the Election Commission on Monday said “multiple factors” prompted it to decide against holding Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat simultaneously.

It said it would hold elections in Gujarat prior to making public the results of the polls in Himachal Pradesh. The EC said it would do so to make sure that the poll outcome of the northern state does not influence the voting pattern in the western state.

Himachal Pradesh will go to polls on November 9, while the results will be known only on December 18.

Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti said the EC is not acting under pressure of the government. The poll panel has been giving “equal opportunities” to all parties in Gujarat, he added.

He also noted that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi have been travelling to Gujarat and addressing the public, but the EC had not interfered in anyone’s election campaign.

“We are not under any kind of pressure. The Opposition can only question us (the EC) if they are stopped from campaigning. They are also getting equal opportunities ,” Joti told journalists in New Delhi.

“The prime minister went to Gujarat yesterday (Sunday). Rahul Gandhi will go today (Monday). We are not giving any special preference to anyone,” he emphasised.

He also noted that the EC had not issued directions to any party with regard to holding rallies in the state.

On October 13, the EC had announced the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh, but refrained from giving out dates for Gujarat, although the terms of the legislative Assemblies in both the states will expire around the same time.

This prompted the Opposition Congress to criticise the EC’s decision and insinuated that the poll panel had buckled under pressure from the ruling BJP.

Joti, however, said that when EC officials visited Himachal Pradesh, the state poll panel as well as political parties and the state administration had requested it to hold the Assembly elections in early November as three districts — Kinnaur, Lahaul Spiti and Chamba —  might experience snowfall once winter sets in.

He also said that the poll panel would require the services of a large number of state government employees to conduct elections in Gujarat.

So, had the EC held elections in Gujarat along with Himachal Pradesh, government employees, who are presently involved in relief and rehabilitation work in the flood-affected areas of the western state, would have had to abandon their work and focus on poll-related activities, he said.

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