NEW DELHI -- The Election Commission (EC) has announced the schedule of the upcoming crucial assembly elections in Gujarat.
The polls will be conducted in two phases. The polling for the first phase will be held on 9 December and for the second phase on 14 December.
The counting of the votes will be held on 18 December.
The last date for nominations is set to be 21 November.
The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Achal Kumar Joti, announced that 50,128 polling booths would be set up and VVPAT machines will be used for the polls in the state.
The CEC also said the model code of conduct would come into force with immediate effect in the state, adding that a flash of light would be shown after voting showing details of the candidate who the voter has voted for.
CCTVs will also be installed along the border check-points, said the CEC, adding there would be 102 all-women polling stations for the polls in Gujarat.
Differently-abled voters will be given preference at the polling stations.
The state polls will witness a direct contest between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Eyeing Patidar votes, the Congress has been trying to get support from their leaders to counter the saffron party in Gujarat, where they had been in power since 1995.
The contest is important for the BJP because Gujarat is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
The election watchdog had earlier come under fire for not announcing the dates for Gujarat assembly polls, along with those of Himachal Pradesh.
The Opposition alleged that the poll body did not announce the date for Gujarat polls as it was pressurised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to delay it.
The Election Commission had, however, rejected the Opposition's charge and asserted that no special preference was given to any political party.
"We have given equal opportunities to all political parties. We have not directed any party to hold or to not hold their rallies in the state. We are not meddling in their campaigns. Yesterday, the Prime Minister went to Gujarat. Today, Rahul Gandhi will go. We are not giving any special preference to any political party," Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti had told ANI, in an exclusive interview.
The term of 13th state assembly ends on 22 January, 2018.
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