EC’s withholding of Gujarat poll schedule ‘strange’: CPI-M

New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) The CPI-M on Friday called the Election Commission’s reasoning behind declaring the poll schedule in Himachal Pradesh but not Gujarat “strange”.

“It is strange 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.

Usually when elections are due within a period of six months, these states are combined and a joint announcement is made, it said. “This has been the practice followed so far.”

After the announcement of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect in Himachal Pradesh, but not in Gujarat.

“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.

“This is even stranger if Gujarat Assembly elections are to be completed before December 18, then the Model Code of Conduct must be applicable to that state as well,” the CPI-M said.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja said that it is natural that questions would be raised over the EC’s decision.

“There are many questions raised in public domain as to why the EC did not announce schedule for Gujarat polls. There are many apprehensions, speculations appearing in public domain,” Raja said.

However, the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have dismissed the EC’s criticism as “uncalled for” and “deplorable”.

“To raise questions over the integrity of institutions like the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) and the EC is uncalled for,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

BJP’s national Spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said that questioning the intentions of a constitutional body like the EC is “deplorable”.

The EC on Thursday announced the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh whose assembly’s term will end on January 7 next year, but withheld the schedule for Gujarat whose assembly’s term ends on January 22 next year.

Defending the Commission’s decision, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) said that “several factors, and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed public meetings in Gujarat”, were considered to defer the poll announcement on Gujarat.

As soon as the EC announces the poll schedule for a state, the Model Code of Conduct comes into force in that state during which the governments cannot announce any policy decision nor unveil new projects.

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