<p>The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday announced two-phase Assembly elections in Gujarat and a single-phase election in Himachal Pradesh — two states where the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are in direct contests.
The stakes are high for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is trying to win the elections for the third consecutive term. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is also hoping to retain the top post for the second consecutive term.
“The polling for the single phase assembly election in Himachal Pradesh will be held on November 4, while polling for the Gujarat will be held on December 13 and December 17. The election results will be announced on December 20 for both the states,” said V S Sampath, chief election commissioner.
During the previous assembly election in Gujarat, BJP contested all 182 seats and won 117, while the Congress had contested 173 seats and won only 59. BJP had won 127 seats in Gujarat in 2002. The party had also won a majority in Himachal Pradesh in 2007 when it secured 41 seats of the total 68 constituencies, while the Congress had managed to win only 23 seats.
In the course of the assembly elections, ECI has decided to strictly monitor the issue of paid news, and has been holding meetings with representatives of political parties and media houses. “Media certification and monitoring committees will be formed at district, state and ECI levels, which will deal with the issue of paid news. This is a learning experience for ECI also, and we hope it will be more effective this time. The moment we suspect of paid news, we will issue a notice,” Sampath added.
The assembly elections in these two states are also important because it is the first time these two states are going to polls after delimitation was implemented in 2008. The total number of electorates in Gujarat is 37.8 million, while the total number of electorates in Himachal Pradesh is 4.52 million.
“There is no law and order problem in Himachal Pradesh, but we are in the process of identifying the total number of sensitive constituencies in Gujarat. The list will be completed soon and paramilitary forces and armed police of different states will be sent to these two states for the elections,” Sampath said.