The Gujarat elections will be held in two phases – on December 1 and 5. (Representational)
Announcing the Gujarat election on December 1 and 5, the Election Commission today denied any “bias” or any deliberate delay.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the Gujarat election dates are well within schedule. The votes in Gujarat will be counted on the same day as Himachal Pradesh despite the two-week gap in the announcement of dates for the two states.
“The Election Commission’s impartiality is a proud legacy. We are 100 per cent impartial,” he said.
The Congress and other opposition parties have accused the election body of not announcing the dates along with Himachal Pradesh last month to give room to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to finish his campaign in Gujarat before the model code of conduct comes into play.
The term of the Gujarat assembly ends on February 18 and that of Himachal Pradesh, on January 8. The BJP is in power in both states.
Ahead of the announcement, the Congress had jabbed the Election Commission with a tweet that appeared to allege partiality.
“Some try to create a negative atmosphere… Actions and outcomes speak louder than words. At times, those parties critical of the commission have got surprise results in elections. There is no third umpire in this case but the results are testimony,” he said.
The Model Code of Conduct will be in place for 38 days, which is among the shortest. “That is the same as the Delhi election,” Mr Kumar said.
On allegations of a delay, he said: “The tenure of the Gujarat assembly is till February 18, so there is still time. There is a 72-day gap between the counting day and the day the Gujarat assembly term gets over.”
He added: “There are several factors in deciding the polls – weather, the date of the last term of the assembly, the tradition of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh results together. We have to balance a lot of things. We are well within time.”
On whether announcements for the survivors of the Gujarat bridge tragedy could clash with the election code of conduct, Mr Kumar said: “If the level-playing field is disturbed by any decision, the Election Commission will take action.”