Up to Election Commission to decide poll dates: Gujarat CM

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Election Commission said polls in Himachal Pradesh would be held on 9 November but, in a departure from the norm, did not announce the dates for Gujarat. The Congress leader said that the BJP was trying to convert the Election Commission into "election omission".

Usually when elections are due within a period of six months, these states are combined and a joint announcement is made, it said.

K.J. Rao, who retired as adviser to the commission, said he is not aware of the compulsion of the commission to split the announcement of the poll schedule for the two states but agreed with former CEC SY Quraishi that the decision of the EC went against the spirit of the "simultaneous polls". He further said that EC's delay was a fundamental assault on a level playing field.

After the announcement of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect in Himachal Pradesh, but not in Gujarat.

Referring to the Election Commission stating that it is supposed to conduct elections in a state within 46 days, Singhvi said this time limit has been broken in the past on numerous occasions including in elections in Delhi, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Arunachal and Andhra Pradesh.

"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.

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"This is being done to ensure that the voting pattern of one state does not affect the other state. polling in Gujarat will be held before December 18 (when HP results are announced)", Joti had told a press conference.

The term of the current Assemblies in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat expires in January 2018.

Talking to ANI, Union Minister Jitendra Singh shrugged off Congress' claim and said the BJP accords absolute independence to constitutional bodies.

"But these were not conducted in two states simultaneously", he said.

Though it did say that they would be held no later than December 18, when votes will be counted for Himachal Pradesh. The BJP will fight against the ruling Congress in the state and it would be a battle of personalities.

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