Losing party cannot browbeat EC: Jaitley

Losing party cannot browbeat EC: Jaitley

A disgruntled and losing party cannot browbeat the Election Commission, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said as he attacked the Congress for criticizing the poll panel over Gujarat election dates.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Jaitley said the opposition was full of praise for the EC when it gave a favourable verdict in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls, but they now question the panel’s announcement of poll dates.

While the EC announced election dates for Himachal Pradesh on October 12, it delayed until Wednesday to release the schedule for Gujarat Assembly polls.

The western state would have the polls in two phases -December 8 and 14- while counting of votes for both Gujarat and Himachal would take place on December 18.

Congress accused the government of pressurizing the EC into delaying the announcement of Gujarat poll dates to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shower sops for the state. The model code prevents government from announcing new schemes.

"If there is a gap of four to five weeks between elections in the two states, then it is fair that there be a similar gap between imposition of the Model Code of Conduct there," Jaitley –who leads a team of five ministers to oversee Gujarat polls for his party- said.

The Finance Minister also wondered why the duration of the model code should be longer for a BJP-ruled state.
“Just because the Congress feels so, it will not be binding on the EC to declare model code for 35 days in a Congress ruled state (Himachal) and 70 days in BJP ruled state,” Jaitley said.

 “The EC is duty-bound as per the law. It would be wholly against the spirit of democracy if the Model Code of Conduct is extended to 70-80-90 days," he added.

The senior BJP leader reminded the opposition that the model code was made compulsory by the previous NDA regime and it could only be enforced for a few weeks before the elections.

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