The decision of Election Commission of India (ECI) not to announce date for Gujarat election along with Himachal Pradesh has divided the opinion of political parties. Yesterday EC declared date for Himachal Pradesh election but not for the Gujarat raising eyebrows. Both the states are going for election around the same time. Congress party has alleged that BJP has denigrated the authority and power of the EC. CPI (M) has also termed the move of EC as strange. BJP, on the other hand has hit out at Congress for questioning the Election Commission for not announcing Gujarat Assembly polls along with Himachal Pradesh.
However it is not only opposition parties, former officials of ECI have also expressed surprise over decision to defer announcing the date for Gujarat election. Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi expressed suspicion over the Election Commission’s decision to not announce dates for Gujarat’s Assembly elections on the same day it announced dates for Himachal Pradesh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is schedule to visit Gujarat next week to address rallies. Therefore decision of ECI creates a “ground of suspicion.” Opposition parties allege that Modi might announce soup for Gujarat during his visit to woo the voters. The announcement of election dates brings the Model Code of Conduct into effect both in the state and for the Centre, in terms of announcements of programmes and schemes. The code has, therefore, not come into effect in Gujarat yet. Therefore the concern raised by opposition is not without valid reason. The election commission is expected to act neutral but their decision to defer announcing date for Gujarat poll raises serious question mark over integrity of the commission.