Election Commission on Friday announced the schedule for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls without clubbing it with the Gujarat elections, prompting the Congress to say the decision gives more time to the ruling party to tailor announcement of populist schemes for Gujarat.

The term of the Gujarat Assembly ends on February 18, 2023.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said gazette notification for Himachal elections will be issued on October 17. The last date of nominations is October 25. Date for scrutiny is October 27 and the date of withdrawal of nominations is October 29. Polling will be held on November 12 and the results are to be declared on December 8.

On the reasons for scheduling the Himachal elections earlier than Gujarat polls, the CEC said, “Commission goes by convention in announcing the schedule. Preparation and conduct of election is a detailed exercise. We assess the impact of result of one on the other. There are factors like weather specially in the upper reaches in Himachal where snowing takes place. There are multiple factors. Commission weighed everything,” he said.

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Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the Gujarat election announcement has been withheld to give more time to the ruling government to announce more populist schemes.

“Obviously, this has been done to give more time to the PM to make some mega promises and carry out more inaugurations. Not at all surprising,” Ramesh tweeted.

Himachal has a 68-member assembly and the BJP had won a clear majority by winning 44 seats in the 2017 elections. The Congress managed to win 21 seats, Independents bagged two seats and the CPI(M) emerged victorious in one constituency. In percentage terms, the BJP won 48.79 per cent of the total valid votes, followed by the Congress (41.68 per cent) and Independents (6.34 per cent).