On Friday, the Election Commission announced that assembly elections will take place on November 12 in Himachal Pradesh. However, with the intention of reducing the length of time that the Model Code of Conduct is in effect so that it does not interfere with policy decisions and governance, the commission decided to put the announcement of polls in Gujarat on hold. This followed the precedent that was set by the Election Commission’s predecessors in 2017.
Even though the term of the Himachal assembly will end on January 8, 2023, the Election Commission has decided to move election day up to November 12, despite the fact that snow is expected to begin falling in the higher reaches of the state around the middle of November. This decision was made in light of the potential logistical challenges that this event may present. Vote counting will take place on December 8.
The fact that there was a gap of four weeks between the polling and counting in Himachal Pradesh is a clear signal that the results of the assembly elections in Gujarat would be published within the next week or two.
According to officials from the Election Commission, the announcement of assembly elections in Gujarat will take place very soon. According to these sources, voting will most likely take place in one or two stages and would be finished by December 4, followed by counting alongside Himachal.
They claimed that elections will be held early in the state of Gujarat even though the current assembly’s term does not end until February 18 of the following year. This was done to prevent the outcome of the election in Himachal Pradesh from having any affect on the level playing field.
Despite the fact that the BJP and the Congress have always competed head-to-head in Himachal, the AAP has attempted to make this election a three-way race. The BJP and the Congress have alternated control of the state legislature in this manner every five years for the past nearly 37 years. However, the BJP is hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the one to break this tradition.
Additionally, many of the familiar figures who have ruled the political landscape of Himachal Pradesh for the past several years will not be running for office in current election cycle there. While Congress member and a former Chief Minister Vir Bhadra Singh has passed away, BJP leader Shanta Kumar, who has previously held the position of Chief Minister, is currently inactive due to his advanced age. Another former Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was the face of the BJP in the most recent elections, has been eliminated from the running as a result of his stunning loss.
In 2017, the Election Commission (EC), at the time led by Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti, announced that elections will be held in Gujarat on October 25 and in Himachal Pradesh on October 13. The elections in Gujarat were held in two phases, the first on December 9 and the second on December 14. The elections in Himachal were held in a single phase on November 9. The counting for both states was completed at the same time on December 18th.
The Chief Electoral Commissioner of Himachal Pradesh, Rajiv Kumar, stated on Friday that the election commission had made the decision to delink the announcement of elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. This decision was made after taking into consideration a number of factors, including a gap of forty days between the end of terms of the Gujarat and Himachal assemblies, the impending onset of snow in Himachal’s upper reaches, and the necessity to shorten the model code of conduct (MCC) period. According to him, the MCC period, which is the interval between the declaration of the results and the counting of those results, has been reduced to 57 days in the instance of Himachal, down from 70 days in 2017 and 81 days in 2012 (when the elections in Gujarat and Himachal were held simultaneously). In addition, compared to 2017, the people of Himachal Pradesh will have to wait for the results for two weeks less this time around. The convention that was used in 2017 was followed, and then it was tweaked even further, said Kumar.
AK Joti, who as CEC had announced the 2017 elections in Himachal and Gujarat within days of each other and invited allegations of allowing time to the party in power to announce last-minute sops, stated that there is no pressing need to club elections in two states because these states are not geographically contiguous and fall in different agro-climatic zones. Joti made this statement when he was contacted about the matter. “The snow in Himachal Pradesh makes it impossible to hold elections during the harsh winter months. Regarding the state of Gujarat, there is no restriction of any kind. In 2017, we delinked the poll announcement for the two states because the Gujarat government needed more time to finish ongoing relief work after heavy rains, and we also wanted to make sure that the MCC, in accordance with Supreme Court judgments, didn’t last longer than 46 days. Both of these factors led us to take these actions “he said.
CEC Kumar stated that the terms of the state assemblies in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry, all of which went to the polls at the same time in 2021, were ending over a span of 10-15 days, which is contrary to the tradition of tying up elections in states with closely-timed expiration of their respective assemblies. In the most recent round of elections, the mandates of the assembly other than UP were ending within a span of a week. These elections took place in UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa, and Manipur.