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The Congress on Friday attacked the BJP for denigrating the authority of the Election Commission and alleged that “past practices, conventions and precedents” were being set aside to help the ruling party in Gujarat. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi accused the BJP of pressure tactics to convert the Election Commission to “Election Omission” and said the party wanted to woo the people of Gujarat with some last-minute sops.
The party also demanded that the Gujarat polls be announced immediately and the Model Code of Conduct imposed.
“In a last-ditch effort to save itself from the thrashing which it will receive from the hands of the people of Gujarat in the forthcoming elections, the BJP has resorted to shameless pressure tactics on the EC and has most blatantly denigrated the authority and power of the Election Commission,” he told reporters.
He alleged that a “drowning man is desperately clutching at straws” to announce populist sops on October 16, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to visit his home state.
“We would like to strongly point that BJP is trying its best to influence the functioning of the Election Commission. Just like it belittled the authority of the RBI, judiciary, and other important institutions, it is trying to pressurize the EC.”
The Election Commission “it seems has handed a rope to the BJP to somehow climb the cliff, at a time when the BJP is down and out and is looking to somehow lure the electorate with sops”, Singhvi said in a statement.
The statement added that “past practices, conventions and precedents are being set aside to help the BJP”.
The state government and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) made some big announcements for various sections a few hours before the Election Commission announced dates for the Himachal Pradesh election, he said.
“This is bribery. This is collective or attempted bribery.”
Singhvi also took a dig at the prime minister, asking why simultaneous elections were not declared for Himachal and Gujarat when he had been talking about holding simultaneous polls for all states across the country.
The Congress leader said the Gujarat government declared a slew of sops aimed at wooing agitating Patidars, the Valmiki community, lakhs of government employees and the powerful builder lobby and asked, “Why was it in such a hurry?”
He also alleged that the BJP-ruled AMC advanced its standing committee meeting by an hour and a half to clear proposals worth Rs 530 crore in just 10 minutes and asked why it did so.
The anomaly of announcing elections in Himachal Pradesh first and not announcing the elections in Gujarat casts a serious shadow of suspicion on the workings of the Election Commission, he said, accusing the BJP of being the “biggest culprit to break this time tested convention”.
“The frenzied, desperate and last minute attempt by the BJP to force this change so as to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi announce various sops like a ‘fake’ Santa Claus in Gujarat on October 16, speaks volumes about how the BJP is staring at a complete decimation in Gujarat,” he said.
Both states have held elections together since 1998 (except in 2002-03, due to riots in Gujarat), Singhvi said, wondering why the time for enforcement of model code of conduct was reduced this time.
He also cited examples in the past when elections to various states were announced together.