Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh

On 10/10/2007 Election Commission announced the schedules for elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. In both states elections are in two phases.
In Gujarat, first phase is for 87 constituencies with notification on 15/11/2007, nominations on 23/11/2007, withdrawals on 26/11/2007 and voting on 11/12/2007 and second phase is for 95 constituencies with notification on 21/11/2007, nominations on 28/11/2007, withdrawals on 1/12/2007 and voting on 16/12/2007. Counting of votes is on 23/12/2007.
In Himachal Pradesh, first phase is for 3 constituencies with notification on 20/10/2007, nominations on 27/10/2007, withdrawals on 31/10/2007 and voting on 14/11/2007 and second phase is for 65 constituencies with notification on 23/11/2007, nominations on 30/11/2007, withdrawals on 3/12/2007 and voting on 19/12/2007. Counting of votes is on 28/12/2007.
Model code of conduct comes into effect once elections are announced. In both states elections should have been held on a single day. Voting in all constituencies in Himachal Pradesh should have been on 14/11/2007 if the reason for having separate voting for three constituencies on that day is weather condition. Elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh should have been announced separately if polling could not be simultaneous. In Gujarat polling for all constituencies should have been on 11/12/2007.
Besides, there is a long gap between the last day of voting and the day of counting of votes. In Gujarat there are six days in between and in Himachal Pradesh eight days. The last day of voting in both states is 19/12/2007 which is in Himachal Pradesh. Counting of votes in Gujarat should have been on 20/12/2007. In Himachal Pradesh one day is enough to transport EVMs and counting of votes there should have been on 21/12/2007.
Election Commission is unnecessarily prolonging election schedules. For any state elections, including counting of votes and announcement of results, should be over within 36 days of the announcement. Elections should be announced only when the term of the Legislative Assembly is coming to an end so the new Legislative Assembly is constituted only when the old Legislative Assembly’s term expires. President’s Rule is an exception. It is not right that in a state, members of two Legislative Assemblies are paid salaries and perquisites at the same time.

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