NEW DELHI: The Opposition was miffed after the Election Commission withheld poll dates for Gujarat and expressed apprehension that the Modi government was putting pressure on the poll panel to defer the announcement to gain politically.
“Modi Government appears to be putting pressure on EC to defer announcement of Gujarat election alongwith Himachal, to suit its political ends,” Congress communication department chief Randeep Surjewala tweeted shortly after the EC declared that Himachal Pradesh polls will be held on November 9.
Though EC said Gujarat polls would be completed before December 18, when results for Himachal Pradesh would be out, the Opposition was not convinced.
“Onus lies on ECI to ensure level playing field by announcing Gujarat election dates and imposing the model code of conduct immediately,” said Surjewala.
The delay, alleged the Congress, was aimed at allowing PM Modi to announce sops when he visits Gujarat on October 16.
“The reason is that PM is visiting Gujarat on October 16 as a false Santa Claus to announce soaps & jumlas that he didn’t implement for 22 years,” said Surjewala.
NCP leader DP Tripathi too expressed similar views.
“The EC should announce the poll dates for Gujarat soon as there is not rationale in holding back the schedule,” said Tripathi, adding that the recent visit of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, accompanied by PM Modi, to Ahmedabad was aimed at influencing the Gujarat voters ahead of the polls. “PM Modi’s approach is not correct,” he said.
CPI national secretary D Raja said it was for the EC to settle the issue at the earliest as any delay would naturally create suspicion in the minds of people. “The EC should explain. Why should there be suspense over the Gujarat poll dates. The central government might be putting pressure on the poll panel,” Raja said.
However, rebel JD-U leader Sharad Yadav, who has recently been active in forging Opposition unity, defended the EC. “It is okay as per rules…how can the model code be in place so early in Gujarat,” Yadav added.