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Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls to be held on November 9; dates for Gujarat to be announced later, says EC

The Election Commission on Thursday announced Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections will be held on November 9.

Announcing the schedule, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said, elections in Himachal Pradesh for the 68 Assembly seats will be conducted in a single phase. Counting of votes and declaration of results will take place on December 18.

Last date for filing of nominations for Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls is October 23. Scrutiny will be done on October 24 and last date of withdrawal of nomination is October 26. Notification for the polls would be issued on October 16.

Polling will be held on a single day on 9 November and the vote count will be taken up on 18 December after completion of the election process in Gujarat, which the BJP has ruled for almost 20 years.

Joti said the model code of conduct in Himachal Pradesh comes into effect immediately under which the state government cannot take policy decisions. Similarly, the central government cannot announce policy decisions regarding Himachal Pradesh.

The term of the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly ends on January 7, 2018 and that of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly on January 22. In Himachal Pradesh Assembly, 17 seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste while three are for people from Scheduled Tribe.

Reporters plied the Chief Election Commissioner with questions about why election dates for Gujarat were not announced on Thursday.

Joti cited some office memorandums issued earlier to justify the delay in the announcement regarding Gujarat, saying the Election Commission had a statutory 21 days to carry out elections that can extend up to 45 days.

He said the election process in Gujarat will be completed before the vote count in Himachal.

“The basic principle is that the voting pattern in one state should not affect the results of another state that goes to polls in a short period. Prior to Himachal results, the voting process will be over in Gujarat,” he said.

The Chief Election Commissioner said VVPAT machines will be used in all constituencies in Himachal Pradesh because of which a voter will be able to see to which party, symbol and candidate his vote has gone to.

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