In Gujarat, BJP govt showers sops to woo voters as EC delays in declaring poll dates
Gandhinagar, Oct 21: The Congress seems to be right in its criticism against the Election Commission (EC) for deciding not to announce the Assembly elections dates for Gujarat.
Recently, when the EC declared that the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections will be held on November 9, the commission just stated that the Assembly polls in Gujarat will be organised in December without declaring the specific date/dates.
Since polls dates for Gujarat were not announced, the opposition Congress accused that the EC worked at the behest of the Narendra Modi government so that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state would have enough time to announce sops to woo voters because model code of conduct won't come into force in the state.
The allegations levelled by the Congress against the EC and the BJP look right as the saffron party is busy showering sops in Gujarat, one after another.
In the last few days, the BJP government in Gujarat has launched several big-ticket projects, doled out sops for government employees and balanced political equations.
Moreover, PM Modi has visited the state four times in the last one month. He is going to visit Gujarat on Sunday again.
During his upcoming visit, the PM is set to inaugurate and lay the foundation for several development projects worth Rs 1,140 crore in Vadodara.
News18.com has listed 10 major things done by the Gujarat government since EC announced Himachal Pradesh election dates:
- Projects worth Rs 750 crore either declared open or laid foundation and more are in the offing.
- Rs 6,000 crore Memorandum of Understanding (Mod) signed with United Phosphorous to procure agricultural fertilisers.
- Seventh Pay Commission benefits announced for 15,000 nagar palika employees in the state. Next of kin of those employees who die on duty to get jobs.
- Chief Minister Vijay Rupani flagged off 40 buses out of 575 new buses being inducted in the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) and gave appointment letters to conductors.
- Zero-interest crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh for farmers. The move is expected to benefit at least 25 lakh farmers.
- Foundation stone of Aquatic Life Sciences and Robotics Gallery laid in Science City.
- Lion safari park at Ambardi in Amreli district thrown open to visitors, nearly 17 years after the idea was first mooted.
- 22 cases filed against farmers of Nalkantha area withdrawn by Home department.
- 468 cases against Patidars withdrawn. These cases were filed by police during the reservation stir.
- 21 DSPs promoted to the rank of Additional SPs. This is the first time that a new post of Additional SP has been created. Eight of the 21 promoted are Patidars.
If the EC had announced the dates for Gujarat polls, the BJP would not have been able to announce all these sops because of the coming into force of the model code of conduct.
Recently, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), SY Quraishi, in a column for The Indian Express explained why non-announcement of Gujarat poll dates invites questions from several quarters.
"If the government does announce new populist schemes and freebies, it would cause the EC a huge embarrassment. It would be accused of giving the government of Gujarat the few extra days before invoking the model code of conduct. The hard-earned reputation of the Commission's ferocious independence could be in tatters, which would be disastrous for our democracy.
"Politicians must remember that their legitimacy comes from free and fair elections conducted by a constitutional body whose own legitimacy is the ultimate guarantor of the credibility of elections. The EC has been fortunate to have established such a reputation not just in India but globally. Hillary Clinton described it as the gold standard. Reputations take years to build but minutes to crash," the ex-CEC wrote.
Quraishi lamented the fact that the EC has come under scanner over the issue of announcement of poll dates in Gujarat.
"It's painful to see aspersions being cast on the Commission, especially the CEC, just because he was a Gujarat cadre officer. How can we forget that the same Commission had covered itself with glory just a month ago in the high stakes Gujarat Rajya Sabha election by asserting its well established independence and neutrality?
"The ruling party and the government would do themselves, the EC and the nation a great favour if no new schemes are now announced, belying the people's apprehensions. This would shut up the critics who say the delinking of 4-5 days is to enable the government to announce poll sops, beating the model code of conduct," he wrote.