Nominations for Himachal Pradesh assembly polls to begin today

The election commission a few days back had announced, 9 Nov as the date for the assembly elections to be held in Himachal Pradesh. This announcement of the EC brought in a lot of criticism and allegations as the commission was to announce the assembly elections dates for both Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The opposition alleged that the EC deliberately delayed the announcement of Gujarat polls so that BJP could get more time to lure in the voters.

The code of conduct came into practice from the day the EC announced the date for the polls and the nominations for the elections begins from 16 Oct and the last date to file the nominations is 23 Oct. The scrutiny of the papers will be done on 24 Oct and 26 Oct is the last date for withdrawal of the nominations. The voting will be held on 9 Nov and the results will be announced on 18 Dec.

According to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pushpender Rajput, there are 7,521 polling booths in the state, out of which 2 polling booth each in 68 constituencies i.e. 136 booths in the state will have only women officials. He further informed that the counting of votes will be done on 18 Dec and the code of conduct will remain active till 20 Dec. He also said that electronic voting machines (EVMs), connected to voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, would be used in all the 7,521 polling booths.

It will be for the first time that the VVPAT machines will be used in Himachal Pradesh assembly polls. These machines would be displaying the name and election symbol of the candidate for seven seconds, that the voter has voted for. The polls will be held in a single phase on 9 Nov.

The chief electoral officer of the state has also asked the parties to not to spend beyond the maximum expenditure limit of Rs 28 lakh in the upcoming state Assembly polls and make all payments above Rs 20,000 through Account Payee Cheque. This expenditure includes public meetings and rallies, posters, banners, vehicles and advertisements in print and electronic media.

Currently, Congress is ruling the state, but the party is also dealing with some internal differences. However, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi during his last visit had given a compromising formula to handle the situation for the time being. Rahul had announced that of the party comes to power again the incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will continue to remain the CM. The term of Himachal Pradesh Assembly ends on January 7, 2018.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP Party President Amit Shah held a meeting in Delhi on Sat to finalize the name for the BJP candidate. Two-time Himachal chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who also attended the meeting, and Union minister J.P. Nadda, a member of the CEC, are the two candidates who are most likely to be nominated by BJP, though nothing has been confirmed yet.

Of the two, JP Nadda is more of a favourable choice for the BJP as he holds a clean image and is believed to be close with the party’s high command.