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BJP pressuring poll panel, alleges Congress

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi. File   | Photo Credit: Ramesh Sharma

The Congress plans to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission of India on the poll panel not announcing the dates of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections together.

It was a violation of the principle that all parties have a level playing field. The Modi government was resorting to “shameless pressure tactics” on the autonomous body and denigrating its authority and power, senior Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said. 

He alleged that within 10 minutes of the Commission announcing the dates of the Himachal Pradesh elections, the Gujarat government announced sops worth hundreds of crores.

“... the Gujarat government on Thursday declared a slew of sops aimed at wooing the agitating Patidars, the Valmiki community, lakhs of government employees and the powerful builder lobby. Why was it in such a tearing hurry,” he asked.

 

Cleared in a hurry

Mr. Singhvi said that anticipating the announcement of election dates for Gujarat on Thursday afternoon, and the consequent enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct, the BJP-ruled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) advanced its standing committee meeting by an hour-and-a-half to clear proposals estimated at ₹530 crore in just 10 minutes.

“The anomaly of announcing elections in Himachal Pradesh first, and not announcing the elections in Gujarat, casts a serious shadow of suspicion on the workings of the Election Commission,” he said.

“The frenzied, desperate and last-minute attempt by the BJP to force this change so as to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi announce various sops like a Santa Claus in Gujarat on October 16; this speaks volumes about how the BJP is staring at a complete decimation in Gujarat,” he said.

Mr. Singhvi pointed out, that barring 2002-2003 (due to the Gujarat riots), Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have had elections together since 1998.

Earlier this year, he said, when Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand went to the polls together, their poll schedule, spread over a month from February 4 to March 8, was announced on January 4.

‘Unfortunate move’

Mr. Singhvi also quoted a “reputed former Election Commissioner”, who had termed the Election Commission’s decision against the “spirit of simultaneous polls.” “They must have some good reasons to justify this. Mr. Modi’s visit to Gujarat next week creates a ground of suspicion, and it’s unfortunate,” he said.

He found it odd that the BJP, which advocated simultaneous State and Central elections, was so loath to hold just two elections together.

‘Commission under pressure’

Mr. Singhvi said the BJP “is trying its best to influence the functioning of the Election Commission. Just like it belittled the authority of the RBI, the judiciary, and other important institutions, it is trying to pressurise the Election Commission. We demand that the dates of Gujarat polls be announced and Model Code of Conduct immediately enforced.”

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 12:11:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/announce-gujarat-poll-dates-cong/article19856013.ece

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