Assembly polls in five States from March 27

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora (C) with Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra (L) and Rajiv Kumar addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday
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Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora (C) with Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra (L) and Rajiv Kumar addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday

Highlights

  • West Bengal to have max 8 phases
  • All poll duty personnel to get Covid jab
  • Model Code of Conduct comes into force

New Delhi: The Assembly elections in four States and one Union Territory will be held from March 27, with West Bengal having the maximum eight phases continuing till April 29, while counting of votes will be held on May 2, the Election Commission said on Friday.

Assam Assembly polls will be conducted in three phases on March 27, April 1 and April 6, while polling in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will take place in a single phase on April 6. Elections for the West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases, up from seven last time, beginning with polling for 30 seats on March 27, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said while announcing the poll schedule.

The second phase of West Bengal elections has been scheduled on April 1 and will cover 30 constituencies, followed by the third phase on April 6 for 31 seats, fourth phase on April 10 for 44 constituencies, fifth phase on April 17 for 45 seats, sixth phase for 43 seats on April 22, seventh phase on April 26 for 36 seats and last and eighth phase on April 29 for 35 seats, Arora said.

The current Assam Assembly's term ends on May 31; Tamil Nadu's on May 4; West Bengal's on May 31; Kerala's on June 1, and Puducherry's on June 8. Assam has 126 seats, Tamil Nadu 234, West Bengal 294, Kerala 140 and Puducherry has 30 seats.

Model Code of Conduct comes into force as soon as the elections are announced.

Arora said that the Bihar Assembly elections were a litmus test for election authorities, coming as it did in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some 18.86 crore voters will vote for 824 Assembly seats, the Election Commissioner said. There will be 2.7 lakh polling stations, he said.

All election officers will be vaccinated. Door-to-door campaigning will be restricted to five people because of Covid-19.

"Adequate CRPF troops have been despatched to all five states and UT," he said. "Adequate CAPFs deployment will be ensured during elections. All critical and vulnerable polling stations identified and an adequate number of CAPFs will be deployed," he said.

Political roadshows will be allowed with a limit of five vehicles. "Everyone on election duty for the upcoming polls for five Assemblies will be vaccinated against Covid-19 before polling day," Arora said.

Arrangements will be put in place for candidates to file their nominations online for the five assembly polls. Voting will be allowed for an additional hour, keeping in mind Covid-19 safety guidelines, he said.

Also, webcasting arrangements will be in place at polling stations in critical and vulnerable areas, while adequate CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) deployment will be ensured for the assembly polls, Arora said. All critical and vulnerable areas have been identified and advance teams have been already deployed across all four states and one union territory Puducherry going to the polls, he added.

Arora said the nationwide vaccination drive has made the situation more conducive for conducting elections and the Health Ministry has declared everyone on poll duty as frontline workers for the vaccine purpose. "Keeping in view different sensitivities in different states, the commission has appointed two special police observers to West Bengal and two expenditure observers in Tamil Nadu," he said.

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