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Why EC failed to announce Gujarat election dates along with Himachal Pradesh poll schedule

The Election Commission on Friday announced the election dates for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly in 2022 but, contrary to expectations, did not disclose the schedule for the elections in Gujarat.

In a press conference, Rajiv Kumar Chief Election Commissioner said Himachal Pradesh will vote in single-stage elections on Nov. 12 and the results will be announced after the vote is counted on Dec. 8.

Asked by the media in attendance why EC did not announce election dates for Gujarat along with Himachal Pradesh, CEC Rajiv Kumar said it followed the 2017 convention when elections for both states were announced separately.

Citing the weather in Himachal Pradesh as one of the reasons elections in the states were the first to be announced, the Election Commission said polls in one state will not affect elections in another as “there is a 40 days”, referring to the gap between the end of both Assemblies’ tenures.

CEC Kumar had visited Gujarat last month and met with state officials and representatives of political parties to assess the state administration’s preparation for holding the elections.

What happened in 2017?

In 2017, the Himachal Pradesh elections were announced on October 13, while the Gujarat elections were announced on October 25.

The HP elections were held on November 9, 2017, while Gujarat voted in two stages on December 9 and 14. However, the results for both states were released on December 18, 2017.

The opposition congress had then claimed that the ruling BJP was trying to postpone the Gujarat assembly polls for “last minute attempts” to court the people of the state with sops announced by the prime minister.

The match of 2022

Gujarat will see a triangle match between BJP, Congress and AAP. The elections are crucial for the ruling BJP, which aims to retain power in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, while the congress hopes for a victory after being out of power in the key state for 27 years. For newcomer Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the elections will be an opportunity to grow into a pan-national party.

Gujarat has seen frequent visits from top national leaders in the run-up to the elections, and parties are strengthening their strategies. PM Modi was on a whirlwind tour of Gujarat for two days early this month, opening projects worth over Rs 27,000 crore in various parts of the state such as Surat, Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad and Ambaji.

Interior Minister Amit Shah spent two days in Gujarat at the end of September and discussed the poll strategy with local BJP officials. He will meet more with them to refine the party’s strategy.

AAP leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann also visited Gujarat in early October. Raghu Sharma, the Gujarat responsible of the congress, is campaigning in the state, while the party’s national leaders are working on Bharat Jodo padyatra.

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