New Delhi : Delay in announcement of the elections in the five states completing their terms in the next few months is being linked by the Opposition parties to the Election Commission waiting for Prime Minister Modi’s rally in Lucknow on Monday.

They said it gives an undue advantage to Modi to unleash a slew of sops in the rally organised by the BJP which he could not, once the elections are announced and the model code of conduct comes into force. Last time, the elections were announced in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur on December 24, 2011.

Intriguingly, the ECI has been issuing a series of diktats on dos and don’ts while stopping short of announcing the poll dates. Only on Thursday, it issued one more set of instructions to the chief secretaries of the poll-bound states on how to take “immediate action for enforcement of model code of conduct.” These instructions were issued in the past along with the announcement of the poll dates and not in advance.

The election commission reflected on the opposition parties’ concern over delay in announcement of the poll dates in its full-fledged meeting here on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Chief Election Commission Nasim Zaidi and attended among others by the election commissioners A K Joti and Pm Prakash Rawat. All three are the retired IAS officers and take decisions collectively.

The meeting decided to issue the directives to the chief secretaries to address the opposition parties” concern. Asked if the model code communicated in advance will affect any sops announced by Modi Saturday night in his address to the nation on the eve of the New Year or in his Lucknow rally on Monday, the ECI sources said the commission can’t prevent announcements by those in the governments, but their implementation will not be permitted until the elections are over.

After the elections are announced, it takes about eight weeks to complete the process to ensure members are elected to the new Assemblies before completion of the present tenure of the respective Houses. The term of the Punjab, Goa and Manipur assemblies ends on March 18, that of Uttarakhand on March 26 and Uttar Pradesh on May 27.

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