New Delhi: Former Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla on Sunday said the Election Commission (EC) determines various factors such as the number of poll phases, the strength of central forces needed and other arrangements, before announcing the poll dates.
“In 2009, I had announced it on March 2. In 2014, the dates were announced on March 5. (So) There is no particular date (to announce the poll dates) as the EC determines a lot of things including the number of central forces, timings and how many phases they are planning,” he told ANI.
Chawla served as the country’s 16th Chief Election Commissioner from April 2009 to July 2010.
The EC is set to hold a press conference later in the day amidst speculation that the commission might announce dates for the General elections.
Opposition parties have been questioning the delay in announcing the poll dates, with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel asking the EC whether it was waiting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “official” programme to “conclude”.
“Is the Election Commission waiting for the Prime Minister’s “official” travel programs to conclude before announcing dates for General Elections?” he tweeted on March 4.
“Using govt functions as an excuse for political rallies, flooding TV/radio and print with political ads. It seems that EC is giving the government a long rope to campaign till the last moment using public money,” read another tweet.
Responding to the EC’s decision of asking political parties and their candidates to avoid displaying photographs of defence personnel on posters during campaigning or for propaganda purpose, Chawla remarked: “This will also be clarified in the press conference today evening.”
“We have a Model Code of Conduct (MCC). Nothing should be done that violates it. If any political party, be it state or Centre or any person is trying to get an undue advantage of something that breaks the harmony of the MCC, a directive is issued which has been done by the EC,” he added.
Chawla further said that the MCC comes into effect with the announcement of election dates.
Meanwhile, Union Minister SS Ahluwalia said that elections should be held anytime as the term for the 16th Lok Sabha is set to expire on June 3, 2019.
“Elections should happen today or tomorrow. The term of the 16th Lok Sabha expires on June 3, 2019. Last time (in 2014), a notification came on March 5 and elections were done by May 16. The members were sworn-in on June 4. So, before June 3, elections should take place so that a new government is formed,” he told ANI.