The Election Commission today announced the dates for Gujarat Assembly elections. The voting for electing the new Assembly will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14. The EC on October had announced that the voting for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections will be held on November 9.
The counting for both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assemblies will take place on December 18.
The term of Gujarat Assembly expires on January 22 next year while the term of Himachal Pradesh Assembly expires on 07 January 2018.
In both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, there will be direct contest between the two national parties i.e. the BJP and the Congress with very little space for other players like Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
In Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress will once again try to dislodge the ruling BJP which is holding power in the state for almost two decades now. The upcoming elections would be a litmus test for the new BJP leadership in the state as the party will be contesting the elections without Narendra Modi in the driver's seat after a long time. Obviously, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has his task cut out in these elections.
The Congress, on the other hand, is leaving no stone unturned in making a comeback in the state. However, the lack of a popular is proving to be big handicap for the grand old party which in out of power in the state for more than two decades. ShankarSinh Vaghela, who was face of the Congress for last few years, left the party for not being made the CM face, and after that the Congress is struggling to find a suitable replacement. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is trying to lead from the front in the state but it remains to be seen to what extent he succeeds in making dent in Narendra Modi's home state.
In 2012 elections, the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi had won 115 out 0f 182 seats in the Assembly and the saffron party had garnered 47.85% vote share. The Congress, on the other hand, had won 61 seats with 38.93% vote share.
The Election Commission has said that voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system will be used in over 50,000 booths in Gujarat. This move will bury the debate over the misuse of the EVMs by the ruling party.
In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned in dislodging Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government this time . With the Himachal CM under ED scanner in connection with a money-laundering case, the BJP is all set to make corruption the focus of its election campaign.
The BJP sounds confident of making a comeback in the state but is facing internal power tussle between former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Union Minister JP Nadda. However, even in Himachal Pradesh, its Narendra Modi who will be the mascot of the BJP.
The BJP has won 9 out of 13 states that went to Assembly polls since May 2014 when Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India. In all these elections, Narendra Modi was the face of the BJP and the party will rely on the same winning face in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh as well.
In 2012 elections, the Congress had won 36 out of 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh Assembly and the party had secured 42.81% of vote share. The BJP, on the other hand, had won 26 seats with a vote share of 38.4%.