Stepping up the preparations for upcoming assembly polls, the full Election Commission will visit Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat on Thursday to assess the readiness of the poll machinery in the two states. Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey are on a three-day visit to Himachal Pradesh beginning Thursday. They will meet top state government officials to review preparations and ensure that measures are in place for smooth conduct of elections.
On Monday, Kumar and Pandey are likely to visit Gujarat to take stock of the preparedness. The tenures of the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat assemblies will end on January 8, 2023 and February 23, 2023, respectively and the poll authority can hold elections anytime within six months of the expiry of the five-year term of any House.
It is usual for the Election Commission to visit poll-bound states before the announcement of polls. In 2017, Himachal Pradesh went to polls on November 9, while Gujarat exercised its franchise in two phases — December 9 and 14.
The BJP has been in power in Gujarat since 1998 and the main opposition Congress came close to defeating it in the previous assembly elections in 2017.However, over the past five years, several Congress leaders have quit the party to join the BJP and the AAP appears to have stolen the march in campaigning for the upcoming elections, seeking to expand its presence in the country.
In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP had defeated the Congress in 2017 to come to power. The Congress is gearing up to challenge the BJP in the largely bi-polar hill state, where the AAP is trying to get a foothold.