Why Gujarat poll dates not announced with Himachal Pradesh? CEC's reply
Assembly Election 2022: The term of the Gujarat assembly ends on February 18, 2023, while the term of the Himachal assembly will end on January 8, 2023.
Contrary to expectations, the Election Commission of India on Friday did not announce the poll schedules for the Gujarat assembly. At a press conference in New Delhi, chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar announced that elections to the Himachal Pradesh assembly will be held on November 12 and the counting of votes will be on December 8.
When asked by reporters why the poll panel did not announce Gujarat election dates along with Himachal Pradesh, Kumar said the commission was following past precedence in keeping the announcing in abeyance the schedule for the Gujarat assembly.
The term of the Gujarat assembly ends on February 18, 2023, while the term of the Himachal assembly will end on January 8, 2023.
Kumar also cited the weather of Himachal Pradesh as a reason behind announcing the elections for the hill state first.
“There are a number of factors, such as weather. We want to hold the Himachal elections before the onset of snow, especially in the upper reaches where snowing takes place... The EC followed convention last followed in announcing polls,” Kumar explained.
“There is a gap of 40 days between the end of the assemblies of the two states. According to the rules, it should be at least 30 days so that one result doesn't impact the other,” the CEC added.
More than 55 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise for 68 assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh, Kumar said. There are 1.86 lakh first-time voters, 1.22 lakh aged 80-plus and 1,184 voters who are above 100 years of age.
The state has 68 assembly constituencies, with 17 reserved for schedule castes, and three for scheduled tribes, which will go to polls next month. There are over 55 lakh electors across the hill state, of which 67,000 are service voters, 56,000 are persons with disabilities and 1,184 voters are 100+.
As a consequence of the commission allowing 17+ voters to apply in advance for a voter ID card, Himachal Pradesh will also have 43,173 new voters.
“The commission undertook various consultations, including Covid consultations with health secretaries. Although it is not that much of a concern, we have advised the states to follow the five-pronged strategy of test, track, treat, vaccinate, and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour,” Kumar said.