The Congress today demanded that elections in Gujarat be immediately declared and the model code of conduct enforced, saying the Election Commission should not be a party to what it called the BJP's attempt to "run away" from the assembly polls.
It alleged that the BJP was trying to delay Gujarat assembly polls for its last-minute efforts to woo the people of the state with sops announced by the prime minister.
"Why is the Election Commission becoming an unnecessary party to the BJP's attempt to run away from the elections?...Why is the EC becoming a party to it. The Election Commission has the constitutional responsibility and mandate. We demand that the Election Commission immediately declare elections in Gujarat, enforce the model code of conduct to stop all these allegations that sheer chicanery is taking place in Gujarat," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.
Countering criticism over the Congress' remarks against the constitutional body, senior Congress spokesperson P Chidambaram said if citizens do not question the EC, what should they do.
"And what should citizens do, pray to the EC?" Chidambaram tweeted.
"In Gujarat RS elections, Congress complained to EC before counting began. There was only one count, no recount. Ask EC (sic)," he said on the Gujarat Rajya Sabha poll.
Tewari claimed the BJP is aware that it is difficult to repeat its government in Gujarat. He alleged that the ruling party is "desperate" and is making every effort including use of muscle and money power and "street instrumentalities with prime minister virtually shifting the capital from Delhi to Gandhinagar, to somehow retain Gujarat".
Asked about the clarifications given by the EC on charges against it, Tewari said "what they have articulated is not rocket science".
"But the fundamental question is that why has the Election Commission digressed from the time honoured convention that elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat are held simultaneously. Why have the election dates in Gujarat not been declared. Why has the model code not been enforced," he said.
The Congress leader said given the developments that are taking place, it is clear that the BJP is on a "sticky wicket" and is "running away" from elections.
"They are trying their best to delay the elections as much as possible so that the prime minister can dole out as many as dollops of sops as they can in that short time. Why does the election commission become a party to that process. We want to respectfully tell the Election Commission, please you have a constitutional mandate to fulfil, declare the elections immediately and enforce the model code of conduct in Gujarat ASAP," Tewari said.