Gujarat poll schedule delay raises suspicion: S.Y. Quraishi

Poll panel decision goes against the “spirit of simultaneous polls,” the former Chief Election Commissioner says

Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said the Election Commission’s decision to not announce the dates for Assembly polls for Gujarat even as it announced the dates for Himachal Pradesh, created a “ground of suspicion” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Gujarat next week.

The term of both the Gujarat and Himachal assemblies come to an end in January 2018. The model code of conduct comes into effect the moment the EC announces the poll dates, barring the Government from announcing any new scheme or project.

Mr. Quraishi said the EC’s decision also went against the “spirit of simultaneous polls.”

‘Unfortunate action’

“What were the compulsions of EC to announce the poll dates for Himachal and not Gujarat? They must have some good reasons to justify this. Mr. Modi’s visit to Gujarat next week creates a ground of suspicion and its unfortunate,” he said.

Mr. Modi is expected to address booth level workers of the BJP at Bhat village on the outskirts of Gandhinagar next week.

“I am quite surprised by the EC’s decision as the Gujarat Assembly also expires around the same time as Himachal Pradesh. Why didn’t they club it?” said Mr. Quraishi.

Impact on governance

He added that different schedules would also impact governance.

“The results of both the States will be announced together as the results of one State if announced before, could influence the results in another. The model code of conduct paralyses administration, governance and other works. It goes against the spirit of simultaneous elections,” he said.

After announcing the poll date, the EC discussed security issues with Home Ministry officials. A senior Home Ministry official conformed that the EC did not convene any meeting of security forces prior to its announcement.

“Before elections are announced, the EC asks the Home Ministry about the availability of forces and their deployment pattern. No such meeting was held before [Thursday’s announcement]. EC called a meeting after the dates were announced,” said the official.

The official explained since both the States were “peaceful”, the requirement of large number of forces was not desired.

“Requisition for central forces have come from both the States and we will decide soon,” said another Home Ministry official.


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