The Election Commission is likely to declare poll dates for Gujarat and Himachal on October 4 or 5.
As a final drill before announcing the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat in November, the Election Commission on Wednesday held a four-hour long session through video conferencing with the states chief electoral officers and the district returning officers and was satisfied with the arrangements made for the polls.
The tentative date for polling in Himachal Pradesh is November 8, ahead of Diwali on November 13, while efforts are on to get more central forces to hold the polls in a single day in Gujarat on November 20, failing which it will be held on two days, Election Commission sources disclosed.
Both the states will have new assemblies two months ahead of the term of the present Houses -- the term of the Himachal Assembly is up to January 10 and that of Gujarat up to January 18. The elections are being held early before Himachal slips into a severe winter.
Sources said an announcement of the elections is slated on October 4 or 5 and it will be the date from which the model code of conduct for the governments and political parties will come into force. During the video conference, the Election Commission's adviser Mehdiratta, who was the deputy election commissioner for many years, spoke to the state and district officers on the model code and the procedure for rejection of nominations.
The first half hour of the video conference was occupied by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath and his colleague Election Commissioners H S Brahma and Dr Nasim Zaidi explaining their expectations from the district returning officers to ensure free and fair polls. The rest of the time was taken in a score of clarifications sought by the district officers. "We are satisfied that all arrangements for the polls in the two states are in place and there is nothing amiss," an EC official said.
In the past, the Election Commission used to call all district returning officers to Delhi for consultations before announcing the elections. However, it found the exercise using video conference facility not only economical but also saved the inconvenience caused to the officers travelling and camping in the capital.