The Election Commission has begun announcing the poll dates for elections to five state assemblies – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand – on Wednesday.
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections will be held in seven phases, on February 11, 15, 19, 23 and 27 and on March 4 and 8, the Election Commission (EC) announced today. The Assembly elections in Goa and Punjab will be held on February 4 and in Uttarakhand on February 15, the EC added. In Manipur, the state polls will be in two phases, on March 4 and March 8.
The counting of votes in all five states is scheduled for March 11.
A total of 690 Assembly states will be up for grabs in the five states. More than 160 million voters will participate in these elections. Voting will be conducted in as many as one lakh 85,000 polling stations, up 15% from 2012. Electronic Voting Machines will be used in all states.
By the time elections begin it will have been over two months xx months since the Centre scrapped high-value notes, and what the currency situation is at the time is likely to be one of the big factors that will come into play when citizens go to cast their vote.
In Uttar Pradesh, the ruling Samajwadi Party is in a shambles, and even a patch up between the Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav faction may not inspire much confidence by the time the state goes to the polls. Political parties have been now and xx to cobble together any electoral alliances and the race looks wide open.
In Manipur, a big player this time around will be Irom Sharmila who was on a fast for 16 years to demand the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or AFSPA.
Sharmila ended her fast in August last year and announced on Monday that she will take on Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh in the assembly polls. In the meanwhile, the United Naga Council (UNC)'s ongoing economic blockade on the two national highways of the state, and the commodity crisis in the state have led to unrest which has lasted as two months so far.
In Punjab and Goa, this time around, the Aam Aadmi Party is making a play for power. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has been making frequent trips to both states.
Uttarakhand, the state unit of the Congress said earlier this week that it would contest polls on all 70 assembly seats in the state putting a question mark on the seats that its ally the Progressive Democratic Front will contest from. The Congress-PDF alliance was on shaky ground last year. After supporting the Congress during a crucial floor test, the PDF was eyeing a larger role in political matters. In the later part of the year, Congress-PDF ties again came under strain when Congress state chief Kishore Upadhyay demanded that PDF should make its stand on 2017 polls clear.
The Centre has massive security planned for the upcoming election. The Union home ministry will provide around 85,000 security personnel for deployment in the five states.
In addition, around 100 companies, most of which belong to State Armed Police Forces and India Reserve Battalions, will also be drawn from different states for deployment of election duties. A company of paramilitary force comprises around 100 personnel.Here's how it stacks up
a) Goa to go on polls on February 4
b) Punjab to face vote on February 4
c) Uttarakhand February 15
d) Manipur (2 phases) March 4 and 8
e) Uttar Pradesh (7 phases): 1st phase Feb 11, 2nd phase Feb 15, 3rd Phase Feb 19, 4th phase Feb 23
EC also laid out directives before the polls, these include:
1) The limit for expenses for candidates is Rs 28 lakh for UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Rs 20 lakh for Manipur and Goa.
2) EC will focus on paid news. Press Council of India will help the commission in detection of paid news
3) There will be strict expenditure monitor mechanism to curb black money
4) Model code of conduct comes into effect
5) All five states to go into elections at one go
Here are the LIVE updates:-
-Model code of conduct comes into immediate effect: Election Commission
-All women-managed polling stations would be set up: CEC
-Candidates will be required to affix photo on nomination papers, he will be required to mention that he is citizen of India: ECI
-ECI to distribute Voters' Guide to facilitate voters; there will be voters Assistance booth manned by officials: CEC Nasim Zaidi
-1.85 lakh polling stations to be in operation for Assembly Elections to the five states: CEC Nasim Zaidi
-Every polling station will have 4 posters for voting procedure and dos and don'ts: Nasim Zaidi, ECI
-Nearly 100% voters have Electoral photo ID Card: CEC Nasim Zaidi
-Commission will introduce photo voter list. There will be complete accountability of distribution of photo voter list: CEC Nasim Zaidi
Height of voting compartments has been raised to 30 inch for secrecy: Nasim Zaidi, ECI
-Electoral roll of Goa will be published on Jan 5, Manipur on Jan 12, Punjab Jan 5, Uttarakhand on Jan 10 and UP on Jan 12: CEC Nasim Zaidi.
-There will be complete accountability of photo voter slips, colourful voter guides will be distributed to each family: Nasim Zaidi, ECI
-Nearly 160 million voters will be participating in the polls: ECI.
Goa has 40 assembly seats, Manipur has 60, Punjab has 117, Uttarakhand has 70 while Uttar Pradesh has 403.
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly term ends on May 27. Assemblies in Punjab, Goa and Manipur are completing their term on March 18 while the Uttarakhand Assembly’s term is up to March 26.Uttar Pradesh
In 2012, elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly were held in seven phases from February 8 to March 3, and the poll schedule was announced on December 24, 2011.
In Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party (SP) will fight with Mayawati’s BSP, Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to retain power. Punjab
Punjab is expected to witness a three-corner fight among ruling Akali Dal and BJP alliance, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).Goa
In Goa, while BJP is eyeing to retain power, the ruling party is locked in a triangular contest with Congress and AAP.Uttarakhand
The hilly state, which witnessed political instability for weeks, is being currently ruled by Congress. State's Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who is under scanner over sting CD case, is confident of retaining power in the state, however, infighting in Congress party and the main opposition BJP could make things worse for him.Manipur
Owing to poor law and order situation due to the on-going road blockade by some Naga groups, the poll body may conduct assembly polls in Manipur in two phases. One of the highlights of polls in this northeastern state will be Irom Sharmila, who fasted for 16 years to demand the repeal of AFSPA. Sharmila will take on Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in assembly polls.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission held a meeting with Chief Electoral Officers of the five poll-bound states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa to fine tune the arrangements.
The law and order situation in Manipur due to the on-going road blockade by some Naga groups was also discussed.
Central security forces will be deployed in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur to conduct fair elections.
The Code of Conduct for elections will come into force after the formal announcement of the poll dates by the ECI.
The Election Commission normally gives 21 days to the political parties for campaigning after the elections are announced.
The candidates will get two weeks for filing the nominations.