Gujarat elections on Dec 9 and 14

Gujarat elections on Dec 9 and 14

Assembly elections in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14, the Election Commission (EC) announced on Wednesday.

Votes for all 182 seats in Gujarat will be counted on December 18, along with those in Himachal Pradesh, where polling will be held on November 9. The announcement brings into effect the model code of conduct, which bars, among other things, any new sops for voters.

The announcement set the stage for a crucial election that will be seen as a test of support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policies, including GST and demonetisation, in his home state.

For the first time in 15 years, Gujarat would be facing Assembly elections without Modi at the helm. Rahul Gandhi, who is set to take over as Congress president, also faces his first major challenge. He is trying to stitch together a political alliance in the state, involving young leaders, especially along caste lines, who oppose the BJP.

The dates for the Gujarat polls came 13 days after the EC had declared dates for the Himachal Pradesh elections.

The delay had prompted the Congress to accuse the Centre of putting pressure on the commission to allow the BJP government in Gujarat more time to announce sops and launch big projects.

In 2012, the Election Commission had announced the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat on the same date — October 3.

While Himachal Pradesh went to polls on November 4, Gujarat voted on December 13 and December 17. The results were announced on December 20.

For 2017, Candidates can file nominations for the first phase from November 14.

Voting for the first phase will be held in 89 of the 182 seats and will cover 19 of the 33 districts.
The notification for the second phase will be issued on November 20 for the remaining 93 Assembly seats.

Paper trail of votes will be used in all the 50,128 polling stations in the state to ensure transparency, Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti said.

The voters will be able to see their votes cast through the Voter-Verified Paper Trail Audit (VVPAT) machines.
Joti also said 182 all-women polling stations would be set up - one in each constituency.

CCTV cameras will be used at border checkpoints to prevent the smuggling of liquor and money and to stop anti-social elements from entering the state.

The BJP has been in power in Gujarat for the last 22 years. Since Modi shifted to the Centre as prime minister, the state BJP has seen internal dissensions.

This had prompted the Congress to look for an opportunity to take advantage in areas where the ruling party is likely to have lost ground.

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