The Congress today questioned the Election Commission's decision not to announce the poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat simultaneously and alleged that the government had put "pressure" on the poll panel.
The party alleged that the "delay" in announcing Gujarat Assembly election schedule was to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi to act as a "false Santa Claus" to offer sops and use "jumlas" (rhetoric) during his October 16 visit to his home state. The model code of conduct would have come into immediate effect in Gujarat had the poll schedule been announced, it said.
"It is now clear that the Modi Government and the BJP are putting pressure on the EC to defer announcement of Gujarat election along with Himachal, to suit their political ends," Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala alleged in a video message posted on his Twitter account.
"The reason is that the PM is visiting Gujarat on Oct 16 as a false Santa Claus to announce sops and 'jumlas' that he did not implement for 22 years," he said on Twitter.
The Congress leader said that the "onus lies on the EC to ensure level playing field by announcing Gujarat election dates and imposing Code of Conduct immediately".
"The question is that can the Election Commission buckle under such pressure from the government. Is this the right tradition and the Election Commission should give an elaborate answer to the people of the country in this regard," he said.
Surjewala claimed that Modi is "sensing defeat" in his home state after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi "exposed the failures" of the BJP government for 22 years.
The BJP is fearing losses and wants to lure voters in the last minute, he claimed.
"We demand that the elections be held in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in November and the model code come into effect immediately. This is the demand of the people of both the states as well as the constitutional obligation," he said.
"Whatever you may do and try, the people of the state have made up their mind and will defeat the BJP," Surjewala said.
Congress secretary incharge for Himachal Pradesh Ranjeet Ranjan also raised questions over the Election Commission delaying the announcement of outcome of the assembly polls in the hill state by over a month till Gujarat elections are held.
She claimed that the BJP "fears" that Gujarat may "slip away" from its hands given that the opposition party is "gaining support" there.
Welcoming the announcement of Himachal polls, she said her party is in "full campaign mode" and is banking on the performance of the Virbhadhra Singh government.
She also praised the decision to use Voter Verifiable Paper Trail (VVPAT) in Himachal for the first time. "We are in full campaign mode and fully prepared. You can say the BJP on the other hand is hit by factionalism and has 4-5 candidates for the chief-ministerial post," she told reporters.
Ranjan also dismissed reports that Singh and Congress' Himachal unit chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu were not on the same page.
"They are not contradicting each other," she said.
"Given the (better) situation the Congress is in Gujarat and the way it is getting support there, not announcing Gujarat polls thus underlines BJP's fear," she claimed, echoing Surjewala on the issue.