NEW DELHI: Announcing the assembly election dates for Himachal Pradesh, the Election Commission on Thursday did not give the exact dates for the Gujarat polls, though the two are to be held in the same period, drawing accusations from the Congress against the Centre.
Since the terms of the Gujarat and the Himachal Pradesh assemblies are ending in January, it was expected that like in 2012, the poll schedule for the two states would be announced together today.
The exact dates for assembly polls in Gujarat were not announced but Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said it will be held before December 18, the day when the results of the Himachal Pradesh polls are to be announced.
Responding to queries on why elections in Gujarat were not announced simultaneously, Joti said there is "no justification" to have a prolonged period of imposition of model code of conduct as it could hamper development work. The tenures of Himachal and Gujarat assemblies end on January 7, 2018 and January 22 respectively.
The CEC said elections to the two states--HP and Gujarat-- were announced separately in the past too including in 1993, 1994 and 2002.
Joti said people had represented the EC that Himachal polls should not be held beyond November 15 keeping in mind the onset of harsh winter in the upper reaches of the hill state.
Similarly, besides issues like availability of central forces and festive season, the Gujarat government had told the Commission that several relief and rehabilitation works were on in the state following the July floods and it needed time before the model code comes into being.
But the Congress accused the Centre of "putting pressure" on the Election Commission to defer declaration of Gujarat assembly polls and asked the poll panel to answer why it delayed announcing it along with Himachal Pradesh.
"It is now clear that the Modi Government and the BJP are putting pressure on the EC to defer announcement of Gujarat election alongwith Himachal, to suit its political ends," Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala alleged in a video message put out on his Twitter account.
The Congress leader said that the "onus lies on the EC to ensure level playing field by announcing Gujarat election dates and imposing Code of Conduct immediately."
"We demand that the elections be held in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in November and the model code come into effect immediately. This is the demand of the people of both the states as well as the constitutional obligation," he said.
The model code come into force the day polls are announced and remains till the poll process is over.