Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will be held in two phases in December, the Election Commission (EC) announced on Wednesday.
Polls in Gujarat will be held on December 11 and 16 amidst tight security and strict monitoring by the EC in view of the state being a communally sensitive one. This will be the second Assembly polls in the state to be held after 2001 Godhra violence.
In Himachal Pradesh, polls will be conducted on November 14 and December 19, the EC said. Counting of votes in Gujarat will take place on December 23, while in Himachal, it would be on December 28. Electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be deployed in both the states, the Commission added.
Immediately after announcing the schedule, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami and the two Election Commissioners Navin B Chawla and SY Quraishi decided to visit Gujarat on Thursday for a spot assessment of poll preparedness.
On the decision to conduct two-phased election for the first time in Gujarat, Gopalaswami said the EC has planned it on the lines of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. “What we aim at is to manage booth levels in a better way to ensure free and fair elections,” he said.
The CEC announced that officials in Gujarat facing court cases related to the communal carnage, or charges of being impartial during the last elections will not be posted on poll duty.
The people displaced during communal clashes and now living in camps will be issued special identity cards to caste their votes, he added.
The term of the 182-member assembly in Gujarat expires on December 26 and the 68-member House in Himachal on March nine next year. The first polling phase in Gujarat will cover 87 constituencies while voting for remaining 95 seats will be held in the second phase.
The snow-bound constituencies of Kinnaur, Bharmour and Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh will go to polls on November 14 as these areas become inaccessible duty to heavy snowfall. The polling for the remaining 65 seats will be held on December 19.