Contrary to speculations of early Assembly elections,Himachal Pradesh may be going through two-phased polls in November. The first phase will likely be held in the first week and involve three assembly segments in the tribal belt,while the rest of the state (65 Assembly segments) is likely to vote in the last week of November – so as not to clash with Dussehra and Diwali.
Reliable sources said that the Election Commission,which had already held discussions with political parties and deputy commissioners during its visit last month,had explored possibilities of holding polls for three tribal assembly segments Kinnaur,Lahaul-Spiti and Bharmour before closure of the higher passes. The official date for the closure of the passes including Rohtang Pass (13,050 feet) connecting Lahual-Spiti is November 15.
If the dates are to be believed,government sources said that the poll schedule will be announced in early September. The model code of conduct will come into force immediately after the announcement. If polls are completed by November end,the counting of the votes may take place by mid-December along with Gujarat.
In the run-up to the polls,the BJP government has announced a slew of benefits and poll sops for government servants,which will cost the exchequer more than Rs 1,000 crore annually,with proposals to provide more incentives.
Meanwhile,Congress has been demanding early elections and also trying to restrain Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal from granting new benefits to government employees. Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had also met Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath to request him to impose the model code of conduct to stop poll sops.
PCC president Kaul Singh Thakur and CLP leader Vidya Stokes had led a five-member Congress delegation which met the Chief Election Commissioner in Shimla to request a one-go election between October 20 to November 7. The BJP – it seems – has gotten its wish although not exactly their time frame. As the party wanted the tribal belt polls to be held around November 15 and the rest of the state to go to the polls in the third week of December.
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