NEW DELHI : The Congress on Thursday accused the Centre of exerting pressure on the Election Commission to defer announcement of the Gujarat assembly polls, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit the state early next week to announce "sops and jumlas". The party alleged that the poll panel had "given in to pressure (from the government)".
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala demanded that the poll panel announce the dates for the Gujarat elections as well to provide a level-playing field and impose the Model Code of Conduct in the western state.
"The Modi government appears to be putting pressure on the EC to defer announcement of Gujarat elections along with Himachal to suit its political ends," Surjewala tweeted.
"The reason is that the Prime Minister is visiting Gujarat on October 16 as a 'false Santa Claus' to announce sops and 'jumlas' that he didn't implement for 22 years. Onus lies on the EC to ensure level playing field by announcing Gujarat election dates and imposing the Model Code of Conduct immediately," he added.
Surjewala said the people of Gujarat have already "made up their mind to oust the state's Bharatiya Janata Party government".
He said if Modi had gone to Gujarat after the declaration of poll dates, he would have gone there as a campaigner and would not have been able to make populist announcements.
"The question is -- can the poll panel come under pressure like this? Is this right constitutionally? Poll panel also needs to provide an answer to the people."
Another Congress leader Ranjeeta Ranjan said that no announcement on the Gujarat election dates on Thursday "not only create doubt but also shows the fear of BJP due to support the Congress is getting".
The Election Commission on Thursday announced the Himachal assembly polls on November 9, but did not make an announcement for Gujarat.
The poll panel cited some office memoranda 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.
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 next year.
The poll panel said that the vote count in Himachal will be taken up on December 18 after the completion of the election process in Gujarat, which the BJP has ruled for almost 20 years.