Gujarat unit Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief C.R. Patil on Monday claimed the upcoming Assembly elections in the State are likely to get over by November-end, unlike the last two polls that went on till mid-December.
Mr. Patil, who was addressing a "page samiti sammelan" in Anand city, some 80 kilometres away from Ahmedabad, however, was quick to add this was his "political estimation" and that he had not spoken to any poll authority.
The Opposition Congress latched onto Mr. Patil's statement with party leader Deepak Babaria claiming that it showed how the BJP-ruled Union Government had "weakened and hijacked" constitutional authorities like the Election Commission.
"I think the (Assembly) election will be over by November-end. During 2012 and 2017, polls were over by December 12. Nobody has told me this, nor have I talked to anyone regarding this," Mr. Patil said.
The 2017 Assembly elections were held in two phases on December 9 and 14, and the votes were counted on December 18.
The 2012 elections were also held in two phases on December 13 and 17, and the results were declared on December 20.
The term of the current Gujarat Assembly is set to expire on February 18, 2023.
Mr. Patil added he is not authorised to declare poll dates and called on workers to be alert and prepared.
As Congress slammed BJP, Mr. Patil later clarified that his statement was merely based on activities of the ECI in poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
"I think the elections might get over 8-10 days before (its usual date) by November-end because of the way the Election Commission has informed the officers to prepare for it. I had made it clear that I haven't talked to anyone regarding this and this is just my political estimation," Mr. Patil told reporters in Vadodara.
Hitting back, Mr. Babaria said, "This statement is a mirror reflection of how the Central government has weakened and hijacked constitutional authorities. This is an example of how they are dictating the officers of the Election Commission." Meanwhile, at the event in Anand, Mr. Patil requested the party's page committee pramukhs (heads) to visit the house of at least one age committee member every day til the elections for a cup of tea. He attributed the BJP's victory to the page committee members.
"Nine Assembly seats were once with Congress, but the BJP won it on the strength of the page committee members. The BJP similarly won 90.5% seats in local body elections and all six municipal corporations due to the page committee members," he claimed.