Is the licensed weapons deposit circular an indication of early polls?

Gandhinagar: The Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of Gujarat has issued a circular ordering Police Commissioners, District Collectors and District Police Superintendents to initiate the process of licensing arms “for fair, just and without fear” which will be held in the future.

This circular was issued in response to correspondence from the State Chief Electoral Officer dated April 28. She indicates that this is an absolute priority linked to the elections.

The subject reads “For fair, just and fearless elections”. This points to early elections to the assembly which are scheduled for December 2022.

However, village panchayat elections scheduled for May are postponed by the state election commission and administrators are appointed in 2,400 village panchayats. No other elections are scheduled for the near future.

The state’s main licensed arms dealer was surprised to hear of such a circular. On condition of anonymity, he said that such notifications are issued only after the proclamation of elections and that he never heard of such a circular in advance.

He further stated that in Ahmedabad there are 6,000 licensed gun owners. During each election, at least 300 to 400 weapons are deposited with him. In Gujarat, there are approximately 50,000 to 55,000 licensed gun owners.

“This development points to early elections, but the reality on the ground does not match,” said Krushnakant Jha, a veteran journalist from Gandhinagar. He does not recall issuing such circulars in advance for decades.

Jha explained, “The Electoral Commission needs at least 33 days to organize elections. Today is May 14. If 33 days are counted from today, elections can be held on June 18. On June 15, the monsoon sets in the state. Once the monsoon sets in, elections normally do not take place. But in Narendra Modi’s rule, there is always an extraordinary situation for which an extraordinary remedy is worked out. This is a new phenomenon in my experience.

An employee who has served the ministry for the past two decades suggested that the Commission only needed 21 days to organize an election.

On condition of anonymity, he added that “the Commission is always ready to organize elections at any time”.

Congress, however, does not see a snap election. Party spokesman Manish Doshi cited a technical reason, saying the final voters list was yet to be released. The final updating and correction of the electoral list requires at least 15 days.

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