The Gujarat government's Home Department has issued a circular directing Police Commissioners, District Collectors, and District Superintendents of Police to initiate the process of getting licenced weapons deposited "for fair, just, and fearless elections" to be held in future.
This circular was issued in response to the state Chief Electoral Officer's correspondence dated April 28 It states that it is an election-related top priority.
The subject reads "For fair, just, and fearless elections." This indicates early assembly elections which are due in December 2022.
However, the village panchayat elections due in May are postponed by the state Election Commission and administrators are appointed in 2,400 village panchayats. No other elections are due in the near future.
The state's leading licensed weapon dealer was surprised to hear of such a circular. On the condition of anonymity, he said that such notifications are issued only after the election is declared, and he has never heard of such a circular in advance.
He further stated that in Ahmedabad, there are 6,000 licensed weapon owners. During every election, at least 300 to 400 weapons are deposited with him. In Gujarat, there are about 50,000 to 55,000 licenced weapon owners.
"This development does indicate early elections, but the ground reality does not match," said Krushnakant Jha, a veteran journalist from Gandhinagar. He does not recall issuing of such circulars in advance in the last few decades.
Jha explained: "The Election Commission needs at least 33 days for holding elections. Today is May 14. If 33 days are calculated from today, elections can be on June 18. By June 15, monsoon sets in the state. Once monsoon sets in, elections are normally not held. But in Narendra Modi's rule, there is always extraordinary situation for which extraordinary remedy is worked out. This is a new phenomena in my experience."
An employee serving in the Department for last two decades hinted that the Commission needs just 21 days to hold elections.
On the condition of anonymity, he added that "the Commission is always ready to hold elections any time."
The Congress, however, does not see early elections. Party spokesperson Manish Doshi has cited technical reason, saying the final electoral roll is not out yet. The final update and correction in the voters' list needs at least 15 days' time.