EC rules out change in Uttarakhand poll date

Dehradun : With the Election Commission having thrown a bombshell by preponing the vidhan sabha elections in Uttarakhand by a month, from the scheduled timing of last week of February to Jan 30, the Congress is in a euphoria, while the BJP leaders, including chief minister B C Khanduri are crying foul.

The chief minister had written to the Election Commission that it would be unsuitable to hold the elections on Jan 30, as many of the higher reaches of this small mountain state would be under snow and almost the entire state would be reeling under a cold wave, which would affect the turn out at the hustings.

Butthe chief election commissioner, S Y Qureshi has ruled out any changes in the dates that have been announced. In fact, he has categorically states that before giving a final nod to the dates that have been announced various aspects were taken into consideration, including weather, examinations, law and order situation and even festivals.

On weather, specifically that there would be cold wave conditions persisting in Uttarakhand during January end when elections have been announced, Qureshi says that what is the guarantee that there will be no rain or snow during the last week of February and chilly conditions will give way to pleasant weather.

However, political pundits here claim that the main grouse of the chief minister against the announcement of Jan 30 as the last date is that the moral code of conduct has been enforced and there will be a full stop to his spate of announcements of sops to various sections of societies, wooing them in the run up to the elections.

Also the BJP high command and even the state leaders are greatly confused regarding the distribution of tickets, as many of the state stalwarts, including the chief minister B C Khanduri himself and former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, looking for alternate seats to contest this time.

Because of the delimitation that took place, the area of the earlier existing vidhan sabha seats has been considerably changed and pocket burrows from where the leaders got their huge margins have either been divided or shifted to other constituencies. Because of this there is great confusion amongst some of the senior leaders.

Though the scenario is no different in the Congress party, but most of the state party leaders had done their homework well in advance and informed the party high command of their desire to move to other constituencies. As the high command has made it clear that the sitting MLAs will get the party tickets to contest from the same assembly segments, the infighting is only from the remaining seats.

But the state Congress leaders are happy over the announcement of the elections and their being preponed by a month, as the spate of announcement by the chief minister was giving them sleepless nights.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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