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Gross interference in EC's working, BJP looking at defeat in Gujarat: Congress

Gross interference in EC's working, BJP looking at defeat in Gujarat: Congress

"It is odd that the Election Commission has announced the date of election for Himachal Pradesh Assembly while withholding the announcement of date for Gujarat Assembly elections", the Communist Party of India-Marxist said.

"The Chief Election Commissioner has announced that the Gujarat polls will be held before the results of Himachal Pradesh elections are declared on December 18".

Usually when elections are due within a period of six months, these states are combined and a joint announcement is made, it said.

Meghalaya polls will be held sometime in February along with two other states, Tripura and Nagaland.

He said the decision was a "fundamental assault on the level-playing field concept".

Joti said the Gujarat polls would be scheduled in such a way that the Himachal results do not sway the voting pattern.

The EC, however, clarified that polling in Gujarat would be held before December 18, the day the Himachal votes will be counted.

Mr. Joti said that while people in Himachal Pradesh sought to poll before harsh winter set in in the hill state, the Gujarat government had requested that it be allowed to finish several relief and rehabilitation works following floods in the state before the code of conduct was enforced.

Referring to the Election Commission stating that it is supposed to conduct elections in a state within 46 days, Singhvi said this time limit has been broken in the past on numerous occasions including in elections in Delhi, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Arunachal and Andhra Pradesh.

The model code of conduct comes into immediate effect in Himachal Pradesh.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told media persons here that the BJP was trying to convert the "Election Commission into Election Omission" and its "shameless tactics" were "a last-ditch effort to save itself from the thrashing in Gujarat in the forthcoming elections".

Since the terms of the Gujarat and the Himachal Pradesh assemblies are ending in January, it was expected that like in 2012, the poll schedule for the two states would be announced together.

The Congress has alleged that the announcement for Gujarat was deferred to ensure that a model code of conduct - which does not allow announcement of sops - would come into force only after the Prime Minister's visit.

He said the announcement had also cast "a serious shadow of suspicion on the working of the Election Commission".

Singh has to counter the BJP's campaign against him while fighting detractors within the Congress party, like state party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.