New Delhi, Oct 12: The Election Commission of India (ECI) is likely to announce the schedule for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections 2017 at 4 pm on Thursday during a press conference at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi. If sources are to be believed the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh will be held in single-phase. The tenure of the 68-seat House ends on January 7, 2018.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was announced as the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate by Congress President Rahul Gandhi recently. Denying reports of infighting, Singh said that he will lead the Congress to a comfortable victory. “We will be forming the government. Congress will win 45 seats or even more. Our slogan is Mission Repeat 2017,” he was quoted as saying in a report.

The dates of Assembly elections in Gujarat are also likely to be out soon as earlier on Tuesday, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Achal Kumar Joti had announced that the Gujarat Assembly Election will be held in December this year. However, he did not disclose if the state will see a one or two-phase election.

“The term of the Gujarat Assembly ends on January 22, so the election will have to be completed in December. Assembly Elections will mostly be conducted in December,” Joti said while addressing a press conference. He also added that voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system, that was first used in Goa polls earlier this year, will be used in over 50,000 booths in Gujarat.

The paper slips will be counted at a single booth in each 182 constituencies to tally the number of slips and the votes cast, the CEC was quoted as saying in a PTI report.

The poll panel, for the first time, will also introduce all-women polling stations in Gujarat in all assembly segments. Gujarat will have 50,128 polling stations and 28,639 polling locations.

After the recently-held summary revision campaign in Gujarat, as many as 10.46 lakh new voters were added, out of which 3.20 lakh are first-time voters. The total number of voters in Gujarat now stands at 4.33 crore.

To ensure fair and free elections, web casting, CCTV, videography will be provided at border check posts and identified polling stations in Gujarat. It will be ensured that all licenced arms are deposited with SHOs and police stations concerned. Moreover, multiple agencies like Income Tax, Excise and Narcotics Control Bureau will be activated to “curb issues of money, drug, liquor and distribution of gifts”.

Meanwhile, eyeing the assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and Congress have begun rigorous election campaign in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.