Shimla, Oct 17 (UNI) The Election Commission (EC) today rejected the Congress' demand for postponement of Himachal Pradesh assembly elections to next year and said they would be held on the scheduled dates.
''The first phase of the assembly elections will be held on November 14 and the second phase on December 19 as scheduled,'' Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy said while addressing a press conference here after holding a review meeting with the DCs and police officers.
He said the commission was, however, willing to advance the second phase of the elections by 15 days following a request by HP School Education Board chairman BR Rahi who informed that the school annual examinations were to be held between December four and 20.
''Provided the board is willing to delay their examinations by six to seven days, the commission is willing to complete its whole process by December four or five,'' Mr Gopalaswamy said.
He said the advancement of assembly elections was only being resorted to since the poll panel had already announced its schedule, while the school board had not announced its schedule.
''Now the onus was on the board chairman to inform the EC about the dates and any ambiguity on the poll dates would be over soon.'' Replying to a question that the announcement of assembly elections had created a piquant situation in the state, which would now have two assemblies, he said the panel was well within its jurisdiction to hold elections six months before the expiry of the term of the assembly.
Reading out Section 73 of the Peoples' Representation Act 1951, he said there was no constitutional criss as such and the Constitution was very clear on this.
The CEC said the announcement of elections was the prerogative of the Commission which was not bound to hold consultations with the state government.
About 84.77 per cent of the over forty lakh voters in Himachal have photo identity cards, including new and old ones, and the Commission would ensure that the process was completed before the polls.
However, ways and means would be devised to ensure that people without voter identity cards were also allowed to cast their votes, he added.