NEW DELHI: The long-awaited poll bugle blared on Thursday with the Election Commission announcing November 9 as election day in Himachal Pradesh but withholding the dates for the Gujarat elections.
The EC, however, clarified that polling in Gujarat would be held before December 18, the day the Himachal votes will be counted. Chief election commissioner AK Joti said Gujarat had sought more time to hold polls because of 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,” he said.
Availability of central forces and the year-end festive season were additional reasons, Joti said. Separate poll announcements for the two states have been made earlier too — in 1993, 1994 and 2002.
Joti said the Gujarat polls would be scheduled in such a way that the Himachal results do not sway the voting pattern. “The decision to count votes in Himachal Pradesh in December after polling in Gujarat was taken to ensure the poll outcome in one state does not affect polling trends in the other.”
With the EC’s announcement, the model code of conduct has come into force in Himachal Pradesh. October 23 is the last date for filing nominations. The deadline for withdrawal of candidature is October 26.
The term of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly ends on January 22 and that of the 68-member Himachal Assembly on January 7. In the Himachal Assembly, the ruling Congress has 35 members while the strength of Opposition BJP is 28.
RK Nagar bypoll by December-end
Fresh by-elections to the prestigious RK Nagar constituency in Chennai would be held before December 31, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti informed in New Delhi on Thursday. It was earlier scheduled to be held on April 12, but was rescinded two days before polling following claims of voter inducements. The seat fell vacant because of the death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.