An unprecedented move to not announce the date of the Gujarat polls at the time of announcement of the Himachal Pradesh by the Election Commission has the opposition accusing the poll panel of tangoing with the prime minister.
Announcing the Assembly election dates for Himachal Pradesh, the Election Commission on Thursday did not give the exact dates for the Gujarat polls, though the two are to be held in the same period.
The Congress has since accused the Centre of "putting pressure" on the Election Commission to suit the BJP's 'political ends'.
"It is now clear that the Modi Government and the BJP are putting pressure on the EC to defer announcement of Gujarat election alongwith Himachal, to suit its political ends," Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala alleged in a video message put out on his Twitter account.
The Congress leader said that the "onus lies on the EC to ensure level playing field by announcing Gujarat election dates and imposing Code of Conduct immediately."
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India S.Y Quraishi too questioned the EC's move and said it 'created a ground of suspicion' as the PM is scheduled to visit the state next week.
Visiting an election-bound state after the dates of the polls are announced would mean going there to campaign for the elections, keeping in mind the model code of conduct. Visiting it before the dates are announced, however, frees him/her of any such restraint.
The model code comes into force the day polls are announced and remains till the poll process is over.
Speaking to The Hindu, Quraishi said the EC’s decision also went against the “spirit of simultaneous polls.”
AAP leader and former journalist Ashutosh said with the EC's decision to not announce the Gujarat polls date, the 'autonomy' of the EC is 'seriously compromised'.
'With Gujarat dates not announced, EC has touched an abyss. After RBI, EC has also surrendered completely,' Ashutosh tweeted.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal's tweet suggested that the delay may have something to do with the BJP's 'announcing some sops'.
'Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
Did the EC receive a call?
Announce the dates with some delay
have to announce some sops, I say!
Since the terms of the Gujarat and the Himachal Pradesh assemblies are ending in January, it was expected that like in 2012, the poll schedule for the two states would be announced together.
The exact dates for Assembly polls in Gujarat were not announced but Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti said it will be held before December 18, the day when the results of the Himachal Pradesh polls are to be announced.
Responding to queries on why elections in Gujarat were not announced simultaneously, Joti said there is "no justification" to have a prolonged period of imposition of model code of conduct as it could hamper development work.
The CEC said elections to the two states--HP and Gujarat-- were announced separately in the past too including in 1993, 1994 and 2002.
(With inputs from the PTI)