The Congress on Friday hit out at the Election Commission (EC) for breaking from convention and not announcing the election dates for Gujarat along with Himachal Pradesh. The party said that the poll panel has “handed a rope” to the BJP to “somehow climb the cliff” in Gujarat, where, he maintained, the ruling party is looking to lure the electorate with sops. Th EC had on Thursday announced that Himachal Pradesh will vote on November 9 and the results will be declared on December 18. Gujarat polls, Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti said, will be announced later.
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.” He said that “past practices, conventions and precedents” were being set aside to help the BJP. Singhvi accused the BJP of denigrating the authority of the Election Commission and alleged that the party put pressure on the EC to convert the Election Commission to “Election Omission”. Addressing the media in Ahmedabad, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala, former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan and UP Congress president Raj Babbar said that the “anomaly” of announcing elections in Himachal Pradesh, and not announcing the dates for Gujarat, “casts a shadow of suspicion on the working of the EC.
“Allowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce various sops like a Santa Claus in Gujarat on October 16 speaks volumes about how the BJP is staring at defeat in Gujarat,” Babbar said. In Delhi, Singhvi also alleged that a “drowning man is desperately clutching at straws” to announce populist sops on Monday, referring to Modi’s scheduled visit that day. “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 pressurise the EC,” he said.
Stating that EC should announce the dates for Gujarat elections and enforce model code of conduct immediately, Singhvi said the Gujarat government on Thusday “declared a slew of sops aimed at wooing agitating Patidars, the Valmiki community, lakhs of government employees and the powerful builder lobby. Why was it in such a tearing hurry?”
He said the BJP-ruled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation also advanced its standing committee meeting to clear proposals worth Rs 530 crore in just 10 minutes. “This is bribery — collective or attempted bribery,” he said. Calling it a “last-ditch effort to save itself from the (electoral) thrashing, which it will receive”, in the forthcoming Gujarat elections, Singhvi said the BJP resorted to “shameless pressure tactics on the EC”. The party has “most blatantly denigrated the authority and power of the Election Commission,” he said.