Political tussle has begun in India as one politically prominent state is going to poll. The Election Commission of India announced on Wednesday elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh which will last from November to December. Two main national political parties – Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – have already fired salvos in view of the crucial elections especially in Gujarat.
The assembly election in Gujarat will be held in two phases – first on December 13 and second on December 17. Elections in Himachal Pradesh will be held on November 4. The counting of votes for both states will take place on December 20. Gujarat has 182 assembly constituencies while Himachal Pradesh has 68 assembly seats.
Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath made the announcement in New Delhi. The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately from now onwards. With the announcement, provisions of the Model Code will apply to the whole of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh and will be applicable to all candidates, political parties, the state governments and the Union government from today itself.
The elections have assumed significance because they are the first test of the government after the government’s decision to hike diesel prices and permit Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail which saw alliance partners leaving UPA.
Elections in Gujarat are crucial for Congress party, headed by Sonia Gandhi because it has consistently targeted Narendra Modi, Chief Minister in the state since a decade. On the other hand, Modi, in spite of accusations of harboring communal riots in 2002, has projected himself as a man for development and has weathered two five-year elections to retain his chair. His party, BJP, wants to show the nation that it has vigor to come back to power after government’s decision which are widely perceived as anti-people.
Both Gandhi and Modi have exchanged words in the last few days. While Modi has accused Gandhi, chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in center and president of Congress, of spending government money on her foreign tours, Gandhi on Wednesday hit back at him. Modi alleged that the central government spent Rs.1,880 crore on Gandhi’s visits and medical treatment overseas. Modi had also hinted at Sonia’s foreign connection by saying that government’s decision to allow FDI in retail sector.
Sonia addressed a rally at Rajkot and said that BP is not against corruption but against her party. She also said that her party wants to create a new Gujarat. In her 19-minute speech, she did not name Modi but criticized his policies.
After the announcement of elections, Modi tweeted on his official account, “Elections are the biggest festival of democracy. We will take part with true festive spirit. I welcome announcement of the poll dates.”