The three-member Election Commission (EC) headed by Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti on Thursday announced that 9 November as the date of polling in Himachal Pradesh for the Assembly elections and the 18 December as the date of counting.

According to media reports, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said the polls in Gujarat will be held before December 18. Dates of elections and counting in Gujarat will be declared later.

Announcing the schedule, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said filing of nominations will open on October 16 and the last date will be October 23. Scrutiny will be done the next day and the last for withdrawal of candidates will be October 26.

Joti said the model code of conduct in Himachal Pradesh comes into effect immediately under which the state government cannot take policy decisions. Similarly, the Central government cannot announce policy decisions regarding Himachal Pradesh.

Joti cited some office memorandums issued earlier to justify the delay in the announcement regarding Gujarat, saying the EC had a statutory 21 days to carry out elections that can extend up to 45 days.

He said the election process in Gujarat will be completed before vote count in Himachal.

“The basic principle is that the voting pattern in one state should not affect the results of another state that goes to polls in a short period. Prior to Himachal results, the voting process will be over in Gujarat,” he said.

The Chief Election Commissioner said VVPAT machines will be used in all constituencies in Himachal Pradesh because of which a voter will be able to see to which party, symbol and candidate his vote has gone to.

The term of the 182-member Gujarat assembly ends on January 22, 2018 while that of the 68-member Himachal Pradesh’s Assembly ends on January 7, 2018.

Earlier, Congress had declared Virbhadra Singh as the Chief Minister (CM) face of the party for the upcoming state Assembly elections, while BJP has not announced their CM face for Himachal Pradesh.

Also read| Analysis: BJP must end its silence on CM candidate in Himachal

Congress has not named anyone as its CM candidate for the Gujarat polls.

Earlier, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi during his ‘Navsarjan Yatra’ in Gujarat and had launched attacks on the Narendra Modi government, accusing it of crony capitalism and their ‘failed’ attempts to consolidate the economy of India, through demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Congress suffered a big setback ahead of the crucial Gujarat elections when regional strongman and former CM Shankersinh Vaghela quit the party last month. He has now lent support to Jan Vikalp, a front which projects itself as an alternative to the Congress and the BJP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his visits to poll bound state, Gujarat, had announced slew of sops: Bullet train project —  from Ahmedabad to Mumbai– inauguration of Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river, stone of a sea-link bridge between coastal town of Okha and Bet Dwarka Island, and inauguration of Udhna-Jaynagar Antyodaya Express.

(With agency inputs)