NEW DELHI : The Congress on Monday accused the Election Commission of "intentionally delaying" announcement of Gujarat assembly elections to favour Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, the party said, was afraid of defeat after the Congress's emphatic win in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by-election.
"The EC has intentionally delayed announcement of date(s) for Gujarat elections just to favour Modi, to enable him to make tall, hollow promises to the people of Gujarat," Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken told reporters after leading a party protest outside the poll panel's office in central Delhi on the issue.
The Congress leader said the Modi government was afraid of defeat after the Congress party's thumping victory for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat in Punjab, where its candidates Sunil Kumar Jakhar won by a margin of over 1.93 lakh votes.
He demanded immediately announcement on dates for the Gujarat assembly elections.
On October 12, the EC announced that Himachal Pradesh assembly elections would be held on November 9 and the results declared on December 18.
The term of the 68-member Himachal assembly ends on January 7, 2018, and of the 182-member Gujarat assembly on January 22, 2018.
Maken also presented a memorandum to Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti, wherein the party recalled that the Election Commission had on January 4 announced the election schedule for assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur.
"Consequently, a Model Code of Conduct in all five states was imposed the same day. The EC took a conscious decision to announce the dates of all five states together so as to ensure that the governments in these states do not misuse their position to announce freebies on poll eve."
Maken said that since 1998, assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat were held together, except in 2002-03 after the Godhra riots in Gujarat.
"We wonder why has the EC deviated from its usual practice and adopted a special approach not to declare date(s) for Gujarat elections along with Himachal Pradesh?" he asked.
"Now, the onus lies on the EC to ensure a level playing field by announcing Gujarat election date(s) and imposing the model code immediately," he added.