The Election Commission on Wednesday exercising its special powers, set dates for the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh on November 4 and in Gujarat on December 13 and 17, even though the term of their assemblies expires in January 2013. The counting in both states will be held on December 20.
Addressing a press conference, chief election commissioner VS Sampath said the model code of conduct has come into effect immediately from now. He cautioned both the central and state governments as well as political parties and candidates to take note of the code, lest they invite the wrath of the commission.
The commission had earlier inquired from the Union home ministry and the Gujarat government about the feasibility to conduct elections immediately after Diwali on November 13. But the Gujarat government had requested the EC to delay the polls till December because of holidays before that.
The Himachal assembly’s term is up to January 10. Political parties in Shimla had suggested the EC to advance the polls before the winter sets in and makes many areas inaccessible.
Sampath said factors like Navratri, Dussehra and Diwali festivals, weather conditions, availability of security forces and the time taken in their movement were taken into consideration while drawing up the schedule. The election notification for Himachal Pradesh will be issued on October 10. The scrutiny of nominations will be on October 18, while the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be October 20. The polling will be held on November 4, a Sunday.
In case of Gujarat, the notification will be issued for the first phase on November 17 and for the second phase on November 23. Filing of nominations ends for the first phase on November 24, scrutiny of nomination will take place on November 26 and withdrawal of nominations will be allowed up to November 28 while polling takes place on December 13, which is a Thursday.
In the second phase, nominations close on November 30, scrutiny will be held on December 1, withdrawals will be allowed till December 3 and the polling take place on December 17. While 87 constituencies go to polls in the first phase in Gujarat, 94 will have polling in the second phase.
While declaring simultaneous counting of votes in both states on December 20, Sampath said the entire election process will be completed by December 24.
A major change in this election is a revised format to cover the hitherto two affidavits on criminal backgrounds, assets, liabilities and education qualification into one, which will also include a summary sheet to enable anyone check a candidate’s details at a glance.