NEW DELHI: Poll bugle sounded for Himachal Pradesh Assembly on Thursday as the Election Commission announced the schedule of the state elections. While the poll will be held on November 9, counting of votes will take place on December 18.
However, the Poll panel did not announce the schedule for Gujarat assembly which will also be held before the poll results of Himachal Pradesh comes out. While the term of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly ends on January 22, the term of the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly will end on January 7.
Chief election commissioner A K Joti on Thursday said that there are many reasons that schedule for Gujarat polls could not be announced. He also talked about a representation from Gujarat seeking more time to hold polls because of ongoing flood rehabilitation work.“There was a heavy flood in Gujarat and rehabilitation work started only in September..About 35 villages have been relocated. Recently we got a letter seeking more time,” added Joti.
The CEC also said that availability of central forces and festive season is another reason behind not announcing the schedule of Gujarat polls. He also referred to previous instances in which the two states witnessed separate announcement of polls in 1993, 1994 and 2002.
Joti also said that polls for Gujarat assembly will be held in such a manner that results of Himachal would not affect the polling Gujarat. “The decision to count the votes in HP in December after polling in Gujarat was taken to ensure that the poll outcome in one State does not affect polling trends in the other,”said Joti.
With the EC’s announcement, the model code of conduct has come into force in Himachal Pradesh. The Commission has set October 23 as the last date for candidates to file their nominations while the deadline for withdrawal of candidature is on October 26.
The CEC said that all polling stations in the State will use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) for the Assembly elections. This would enhance the transparency and credibility of the election process, Joti added.
For the first time ever, the Election Commission will set up 136 all-woman managed polling booths in Himachal Pradesh, with each constituency having two of them.
In the 68-member Assembly, the ruling Congress has 35 members while the strength of opposition BJP is 28. There are four independents while one seat is vacant.
The Commission also announced that, on a pilot basis, the VVPAT from one polling station in each Assembly constituency will be randomly selected to count VVPAT paper-slips for verification of the results obtained from the Control Unit.
On holding simultaneous polls of Lok Sabha and State assemblies, Joti said that the EC has no problem in this in-principle, but, some constitutional amendments will be needed for this. “Political consensus will also be required for simultaneous polls. Moreover, additional number of VVPAT machines will also be needed,” added the CEC.
Each candidate contesting the election will be allowed a maximum expenditure of ₹28 lakh and will have to furnish accounts of expenditure within 30 days of declaration of results. All political parties sponsoring candidates for the elections are required to maintain day-to-day accounts of campaign expenses and submit the accounts to the EC within 75 days of the completion of the elections, the Commission announced.