Counting on May 23; simultaneous Assembly polls in Andhra, Arunachal, Odisha & Sikkim but not in J&K
The Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19 and the votes will be counted on May 23, announced the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on Sunday.
Calling the Indian parliamentary battle the “largest festival of democracy”, CEC Sunil Arora on Sunday said 91 constituencies (spread across 20 States) will see polling on April 11, followed by 97 constituencies spreading across 13 States on April 18, 115 Lok Sabha constituencies in 14 States on April 23, while 71 in 9 States/UTs on April 29, 51 Parliamentary constituencies in seven States on May 6, 59 constituencies (also 7 States) on May 12 and 59 constituencies (8 States) on May 19.
With nearly 90 crore voters across 10 lakh booths in 543 constituencies as against about nine lakh in 2014, India is set to hold its 17th Lok Sabha elections over the next few weeks. Arora announced that the ‘voter verifiable paper audit trail’ (VVPAT) will be used in all polling stations this time.
“With the announcement of the polls, the model code of conduct would come into immediate effect from Sunday,” Arora said.
The tenure of the current Lok Sabha ends on June 3. Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal, Odisha and Sikkim will also be held simultaneously. However, elections for the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly, which was dissolved after the ruling coalition between the BJP and the PDP fell apart, will not be held along with the Lok Sabha polls.
Both the National Conference and PDP have criticised the decision not to hold Jammu & Kashmir Assembly election along with the Lok Sabha polls.
Questioning Election Commission’s decision, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said, “First time since 1996 Assembly elections in J&K are not being held on time. Remember this the next time you are praising PM Modi for his strong leadership,” he tweeted.
In another tweet Omar said, “In 2014 we had Lok Sabha elections on time & Assembly elections on schedule even after the most devastating floods. Shows how badly the BJP & earlier the BJP-PDP mishandled J&K,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
Former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti also opposed the decision taken by the ECI of not holding Assembly and parliament elections simultaneously in Jammu & Kashmir.
In a statement, Mehbooba said, “Postponement of Assembly polls in Jammu & Kashmir is tantamount to denying basic rights of the people of the State to have a popular Government”. “It is very dangerous to keep the State in the hands of unelected representatives of the Centre. It will further complicate the problems in the State and the decision taken by Election Commission needs an immediate review,” Mehbooba said in a statement.
As per EC schedule, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal will see staggered Lok Sabha elections spread over all seven phases starting from April 11 to May 19. The nomination for the first phase of polls will begin March 18.
The phase I of the Lok Sabha election will take place on April 11, 2019. The phase I polls will be held in 91 Lok Sabha constituencies in a total of 20 States including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman and Lakshadweep.
The polling in the phase II of Lok Sabha elections will be held on April 18, 2019 in 97 Lok Sabha constituencies of 13 States including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Puducherry.
The third phase of polling will be held on April 23 in a total of 115 constituencies spread across 14 States. The States are: Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
The fourth phase of polling will on April 29 in 71 constituencies spread across nine States.
The States are: Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The fifth phase of polling will be held on May 6 in 51 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across seven States including Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The polling in the phase VI will be held on May 12, in 59 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. Polls in Delhi-NCR will be held in phase VI. The polls in phase VII will be held on May 19. The election will be held in 59 constituencies of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Chandigarh (UT), Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
The CEC said 22 States and Union Territories will see single-phase election, Karnataka, Manipur, Rajasthan and Tripura will see polling in two phases, Assam and Chhattisgarh will have three-phase polling, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha will see four-phase polling & Jammu and Kashmir will have five-phase elections.
The places where elections will take place in a single phase are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep, Chandigarh, Delhi and Puducherry.
To conduct the polls in a safe and secure atmosphere, Arora said a large number of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) will be deployed. He said a sufficient number of video cameras and CCTVs besides web-casting will be used during the electoral battle. “There will be extensive web-casting of sensitive voting booths. All critical events will be videographed.”
CEC Arora said that a total electorate in this Lok Sabha elections will be 900 million, of which 15 million voters are in the 18-19 age group.
In 2014, when the BJP swept to power, the Lok Sabha elections were held across nine phases beginning April 7 and ending May 9. The counting of votes had taken place on May 16. The total contestants in fray were 8,251, with an average of 15 candidates in each constituency. However, deposit was forfeited in case of 7,000 contestants. A total of over 55 crore voters (66.3 per cent) exercised their vote, while there were 9.27 lakh polling stations. There were nearly 60 lakh ‘NOTA’ votes.
Monday, 11 March 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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