- There is enough time to announce election dates, sources say
- Opposition have accused EC of deliberately not announcing the poll dates
- For the 2014 elections, the election dates were announced on March 5
There is enough time to announce election dates and the allegations of deliberate delay by some political parties are unwarranted, sources in the Election Commission told NDTV on Wednesday.
"We don't operate as per PM's schedule, we have our own schedule," a senior official of the Election Commission told NDTV.
For the 2014 national elections, the election dates were announced on March 5.
Taking note of that, opposition parties have accused the Commission of deliberate delay to ensure that government can announce a series of programmes and welfare measures that would not be possible once the model code of conduct comes into effect.
Similar allegations were made ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat, with the Congress accusing the BJP of rushing with people-friendly announcements in the period before the announcement of elections.
This time, pointing to the hectic tours and last-minute announcements of programmes and welfare schemes by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had tweeted: "Is the Election Commission waiting for the Prime Minister's "official" travel programs to conclude before announcing dates for General Elections?"
His tweet came on March 4 - a day before the elections were announced in 2014.
The official of the Election Commission, however, pointed out that this time, the dates allow for a slightly more relaxed schedule.
"In 2014, the last date of delivering results for General Elections was May 31, and the poll schedule was announced on March 5," the official told NDTV. "This time, the last date to deliver results for General Elections is June 3, so we have enough time and there is no delay," he added.
For the commission, the primary concern is to check on the poll preparedness of various states. Over the last months, its officials have been fanning out across the country on meticulous stock-taking tours. This time, their task could also be complicated by the possibility of simultaneous election in at least one state.
Earlier this week, the officials had visited Jammu and Kashmir, which is under the Governor's Rule and is due for fresh assembly elections. All political parties in the state have asked that the assembly elections be held along with the national elections in the state and the Commission had gone to check out the feasibility of it.
Asked if simultaneous election would be held in the state, the official said the decision would be "taken in due course".