The Election Commission's announcement of elections in Himachal Pradesh has sparked a political row.
The Congress leaders led by CWC member RK Dhawan and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister VB Singh met the election commissioners on Monday to seek rescheduling of the elections scheduled for November 14 and December 19.
They said the current schedule was in the midst of heavy winter and voters would face hardship in turning up to vote.
However, the BJP sent a team led by vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and former Chief Minister PK Dhummal to oppose such a move, urging the EC not to act under pressure of the Congress. The BJP also wanted effective enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct in the state.
The Congress leaders argued that the two-phase polls come in the midst of heavy winter and the current assembly has its tenure till March next year.
"The term of the present Assembly is till March next year. This gives rise to a peculiar situation wherein there will be two Assemblies at a time. We have brought this out to the notice of the commission," Dhawan said after meeting the ECs.
On the other hand, Naqvi said the Congress leaders are trying to delay the elections as "they have realised they are going to lose the election and want to delay the doom's day as much as they can."
Dhawan rebutted the BJP's allegation. He said it was certainly not the "fear of defeat" but "the problems of the people" that prompted the Congress to demand rescheduling of the polls.
Asked if the Congress would approach the Supreme Court in the matter, Dhawan said "the EC is our SC. We respect the panel and have high regard for it."
Naqvi said, "We told the commission that any change in the schedule will affect the credibility of the panel. Any such changes will mean the panel has buckled under Congress pressure. That impression should not be created."
Dhumal, who is to be projected as BJP's chief ministerial candidate, said, "We are ready for the polls anytime. If the Election Commission wants to postpone it, we are ready. We are confident that we will win with two-third majority. By demanding postponement, the Congress is accepting its political defeat."
While making the announcement in Himachal Pradesh, the EC said it had advanced the elections in consultation with political parties, taking into account the weather conditions in the early part of next year.
The EC said it would conduct elections at Kinnaur, Bharmour and Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh along with the rest of the constituencies. Earlier the elections in the tribal belt were held during summer.