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Election Commission to announce Gujarat election dates at 1pm today

Source : 3   On   25 Oct 2017
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The Election Commission will declare the schedule for the Gujarat assembly elections at 1pm on Wednesday, an announcement that has been in controversy for its timing.

The Commission has been under attack from opposition parties for not announcing the Gujarat dates along with Himachal Pradesh, which goes to polls on November 9.

The date for the Himachal election was announced on October 12.

The delay, according to the opposition, was meant to allow the BJP government in the state and at the Centre to sidestep provisions of the model code and offer sops to the electorate to swing votes in its favour.

The elections in Gujarat will test the Bharatiya Janata Party’s popularity where it ruled for 22 years, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi having served as a three-term chief minister before 2014.

The election is also perceived to be an indicator of the mood of the nation in wake of the government’s economic policies, especially the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax, which has set off concerns in Gujarat’s manufacturing hubs.

The ruling BJP is locked in a high decibel electoral contest with the Congress, which has sharpened its attacks against the economic policies of the incumbent government.

Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti had earlier defended the delay in announcing the election, saying that multiple factors including weather, flood relief work and festivities were considered in the decision.

The Opposition accused the constitutional body of providing the ruling BJP an undue advantage by deferring the implementation of the model code of conduct, which in turn allowed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a rally in his home state. A slew of sops by the administration, which includes announcements such as loan at zero percent interest for farmers up to Rs 3 Lakh, permanent jobs for sanitary workers, big ticket infrastructure projects among others have steeled the Opposition’s attack.