The Election Commission having caught the Himachal government off guard by deciding to hold an early election and get it complete two months before the term ends has upset chief minister Virbhadra Singh plans who has expressed his unhappiness about the decision to go for an early poll
“I don’t see any compelling reasons for the Election Commission to announce elections so much in advance where as the five year term only ends in Feburary 2008,” said Virbhadra, sources close to the chief minister say. The chief minister questioned the Election Commission’s decision to hold early election in Himachal Pradesh. Speaking at an investors meet in New York Singh said that he felt like having been ambushed by the election commission.
Virbhadra Singh, who is visiting the United States to meet World Bank executives for tying up funds for fiscal reforms and development needs, however said that the congress was prepared to face the electorate as it enjoyed popularity with the people.
To build up the election tempo, the congress government plans of inaugurating the Rs 400 crore Tanda Medical College, laying the foundation stones for an Indian Institute of Technology in Mandi district, a central university in Kangra district, inaugurating the Shimla water supply augmentation scheme and other big projects has been stalled by the enforcement of the election code of conduct.
Besides, the chief minister on returning may not be able to announce the achievement of having obtained international finance for funding hydro projects or the state roadways projects. The government’s massive employment program, avenues for which were created in the recent cabinet meetings is also in limbo after the election process has got underway.
The piquant situation of holding elections before completion of term of the present assembly has also caused a minor constitutional crisis, with some legislators reported to be weighing options of approaching the High Court. “Without the dissolution of the state assembly, the Election Commission has curtailed our term of representing a full five year term in the state assembly, said a congress MLA not wishing to be quoted.
The Commission has announced the election schedule by which the polling is to be held in two phases on November 14 and December 19 and the process is to get completed by December 28.