Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: A political slugfest has already erupted between BJP and Congress over the Election Commission’s decision not to announce simultaneous assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Now former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) T S Krishnamurthy has said that was an ‘avoidable controversy’, according to Indian Express report. Earlier, another former CEC, S Y Quraishi, had raised questions over alleged delay in announcing the Gujarat poll dates. Qureshi had claimed that the move to break from the EC’s convention of announcing elections together in states where incumbent governments are completing their terms within six months had raised ‘serious questions’.
“All this controversy could have been avoided with better management,” Krishnamurthy said. “I suppose they could have announced both (Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh polls) together, either one week before or one week after. I am not looking at whether the decision was influenced or not. I am concerned with whether, administratively, a solution could have been found. I think I would have found a solution.” Krishnamurthy had headed the poll panel from February 8, 2004 to May 15, 2005.
The EC had last week announced that the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh will be held in a single phase on November 9 and the results will be declared on December 18. The poll panel did not announce the dates for assembly elections in Gujarat, but Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti had made it clear that the elections will be held before December 18. While the Gujarat assembly’s term ends on January 22, 2018, it is January 7 in the case of Himachal Pradesh.
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The Congress had on Friday attacked the BJP for “pressuring” the EC to delay the announcement of Gujarat elections and alleged that “past practices, conventions and precedents” were being set aside to help the ruling party in the state. The opposition party alleged that the “delay” in announcing Gujarat Assembly election schedule was to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi to act as a “false Santa Claus” to offer sops and use “jumlas” (rhetoric) during his October 16 visit to his home state.
Hitting back at the Congress, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had accused the opposition party of having influenced the Election Commission’s announcement of Gujarat Assembly poll dates in 2012. He also refuted the Congress’ charge that the poll panel delayed the announcement of Gujarat assembly election under the government’s “pressure”. “In 2012 (Assembly election), the Election Commission ensured at the behest of the Congress that the model code of conduct was in force for a record time to prevent Modiji from working, because of which the state government could not take up development work,” Rupani said at an election programme organised here by newschannel India TV. The Chief Minister also denied the allegation that the BJP government was interfering with the Election Commission’s decisions.