The dates for Gujarat polls are yet to be announced by Election Commission.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is likely to be anointed as the party president later this month, visited Mandi in Himachal Pradesh on October 7 to sound the poll bugle. Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti, however, said the counting for Gujarat assembly poll will also be on December 18.
The total number of Assembly Constituencies in the State of Himachal Pradesh are 68.
EC will also announce dates for 182-member Gujarat Assembly soon. But while election date for Himachal was announced and a Code of Conduct introduced with immediate effect, it did not announced date for Gujarat polls. "The party will contest the elections under his leadership", added the BJP functionary. All political parties sponsoring candidates for the elections are required to maintain day-to-day accounts of campaign expenses and submit the accounts to the EC within 75 days of the completion of the elections, the Commission announced.
Soon after the Election Commission announced the dates for assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Thursday said Congress' focus is on development while the BJP relies exclusively on PM Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, the opposition has stated this deviates from the practice of announcing poll dates together for states where elections are due around the same time. "Reason is that PM is visiting Gujarat on October 16, as false Santa Claus to announce sops and jumlas that he didn't implement for 22 yrs", Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala wrote on microblogging website Twitter.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja said that it is natural that questions would be raised over the EC's decision.
"This is even stranger if Gujarat Assembly elections are to be completed before December 18, then the Model Code of Conduct must be applicable to that state as well", the CPI-M said. "They will vote on the basis of CM (Chief Minister) face", Virbhadra Singh said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too defended the EC's decision.
Identification of the voters at the polling booth at the time of poll shall be mandatory.
The model code comes into force the day polls are announced and remains till the poll process is over. "The present government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not interfere with the functioning of constitutional bodies", Union minister Jitendra Singh said.