NEW DELHI: Setting the stage for State poll battles, the Election Commission will soon announce the schedule of the assembly polls of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Sources said that the Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Gujarat to lay the foundation stone of some major projects probably on October 7 and 8 and schedule for the State polls may be announced after that. Model code of conduct will come into force once the poll panel will release the election schedules of the States.
Amidst the soaring political temperature in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, sources said that the polls might be held together in the month of December in the two states. A senior official said that the Commission has almost completed all the necessary works including the revision of electoral rolls in the two states and the schedule will be announced very soon probably within a week of time.
Teams from the elections commissions have already visited the states to take note of the preparations. Officials said that the Commission has already decided to use VVPAT machines in both the state polls. The VVPAT machines, which will be attached to the EVMs, will allow voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.
Recently, a Congress delegation from Gujarat, led by senior leader Ahmed Patel, had met the EC and demanded 100% use of VVPATs and mandatory counting of paper trail up to a fixed percentage in the polls.
Gujarat having 182 assembly seats has been ruled by the BJP and Himachal Pradesh, with 68 assembly seats is currently ruled by the Congress while the BJP is the main opposition party.
Senior leaders of both the parties have started touring the states. On Tuesday, PM Narendra Modi was in Himachal Pradesh to kick-start the poll campaign. Apart from addressing a rally, he also laid the foundation stones of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Bilaspur and Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) at Saloh in Una besides inaugurating a steel plant at Kandrori in Kangra.
Earlier, in September, the PM had visited Gujarat and along with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe he had laid the foundation for the ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train. On October 7 and 8, the PM will visit Dwarka and Rajkot and will lay the foundation stone of an airport besides launching some other projects in these cities.
Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi has already started the campaign for the party in Gujarat where he toured OBC and Patidar dominated Dwarka and Saurashtra regions.