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Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday dismissed charges that the BJP was interfering with the Election Commission's work and said it was the up to the poll panel to announce election dates in the state.

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017 will be held on November 9.

Dhumal, 73, was the party's surprise pick for the chief minister's post in 1998 and successfully completed a five-year term, breaking a jinx attached to the BJP whose earlier two governments could last only half their terms.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja said that it is natural that questions would be raised over the EC's decision.

AAP leader and former journalist Ashutosh said with the EC's decision to not announce the Gujarat polls date, the "autonomy" of the EC is "seriously compromised". "This will enable simultaneous counting in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat", the Election Commission said.

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The Congress has termed as irregular the Election Commission announcing poll dates yesterday only for Himachal Pradesh and not for Gujarat, alleging that this was done to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "announce sops" during his visit to Gujarat next week.

The youth and the women wings of the Congress today organised a joint protest march over the delay in the announcement of the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha polls.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told media persons here that the BJP was trying to convert the "Election Commission into Election Omission" and its "shameless tactics" were "a last-ditch effort to save itself from the thrashing in Gujarat in the forthcoming elections".

However, CEC AK Joti refuted these allegations, saying that "the state government had sought more time as it did not want an unusually longer period of the model code of conduct". "The onus lies on the EC to ensure level playing field by announcing Gujarat election dates and imposing the Model Code of Conduct immediately", Mr. Surjewala said. So, from October 3 to December 24 when the election process concluded, it was 83 days, which is unreasonable.

Talking to ANI, Union Minister Jitendra Singh shrugged off Congress' claim and said the BJP accords absolute independence to constitutional bodies. "We have to be reasonable to state governments", Joti said. The BJP will fight against the ruling Congress in the state and it would be a battle of personalities.


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