Janata Dal (United) national general secretary Pavan Varma Monday morning questioned the Election Commission’s decision not to announce dates for elections to the Gujarat Assembly along with that of Himachal Pradesh, saying ‘credible answers were needed’.
Varma, an official spokesperson for the party, tweeted: “EC must not only be impartial but seen to be so. Why have the dates for Gujarat elections not been announced? We need credible answers.”
The JD(U), a member of the ruling National Democratic Alliance, is currently governing Gujarat in alliance with the BJP.
Last Thursday, the Election Commission held a press conference where it announced the schedule for elections to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly but, in a controversial move, refrained from announcing the schedule for Gujarat.
The term of the Gujarat Assembly ends on January 22, 2018, about two weeks after Himachal Pradesh. In the last two decades, the two states have gone to polls simultaneously except in 2002, when Gujarat was hit by riots.
The Election Commission faced severe criticism from Opposition parties, questioning whether it was acting on the behest of the ruling party. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told the media on Friday, “Within 10 minutes of the Election Commission’s announcement, the Gujarat government (of the BJP) announced sops worth hundreds of crores.” Singhvi said that “past practices, conventions and precedents” were being set aside to help the BJP.
The BJP, however, said the Congress benefited from a similar decision in 2012. Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani, speaking at an event organised by India TV news channel in Ahmedabad, said: “In 2012 (Assembly elections), 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 (Narendra) Modiji from working, because of which the state government could not take up development work.”
Then Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath, however, rejected the charge, calling Rupani’s remark ‘unfair’ and ‘uncharitable’.