Battle For States: EC announces schedule for 5 states

Battle For States: EC announces schedule for 5 states

  • Polls between Nov 7-30
  • Counting on December 3
  • Single phase polls in Telangana, Rajasthan, MP, Mizoram, while two phases for Chhattisgarh

New Delhi: Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Mizoram will go to polls on different days from November 7-30 and votes will be counted for the five states on December 3, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said on Monday, setting the stage for what is being seen as the semi-finals between the BJP and Opposition parties ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Nearly 16 crore voters would be eligible to cast their votes in these elections, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar said at a press conference, while asserting that strong measures are being put in place to make these polls inducement-free.

Kumar said single-phase Assembly polls will be held in Madhya Pradesh (230 seats) on November 17, Rajasthan (200 seats) on November 23, Telangana (119 seats) on November 30 and Mizoram (40 seats) on November 7 while Chhattisgarh will go to the polls in two phases on November 7 (20 seats) and 17 (70 seats).

With the announcement of the poll schedule, the model code of conduct has come into force in the five states. The EC has written to the Cabinet Secretary and Chief Secretaries of the five states to ensure provisions of the model code are enforced immediately.

CEC Rajiv Kumar said the poll panel has given special emphasis on making electoral rolls inclusive. The focus will be on "roll-to-poll" conversion. He said the poll machinery in the five states will make all-out efforts to ensure greater voter participation on election days.

The poll panel had been fighting apathy among the youth and urban voters who prefer to stay at home instead of going to the polling booth to exercise their franchise. Kumar said these five states will have 1.77 lakh polling stations, of which 1.01 lakh will have webcasting facilities.

The nomination process for Mizoram and the first phase of Chhattisgarh polls will begin on October 13, while the last date of withdrawing from the electoral battle is October 23. For Madhya Pradesh and the second phase of Chhattisgarh polls, the nomination process will begin on October 21. The last date to withdraw candidature is November 2.

The nomination process for the Rajasthan election will commence from October 30 and the last date to withdraw candidature is November 9.

The nomination process in Telangana will begin from November 3 and November 15 will be the last date to withdraw from the electoral battle.

The high-stakes polls will be a litmus test for the Congress, the biggest party in the fledgling INDIA bloc which is in power in two of the four big states, while a lot is riding for the BJP as well, as the results are bound to have a major bearing on the discourse in the run-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reelection bid next year.

The BJP and the Congress will be engaged in a direct fight in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, while the two parties are also in contention for power in Telangana, where Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi is eyeing a third straight term. In Mizoram, regional parties and the Congress will challenge the incumbent Mizo National Front amid the Opposition party’s hope is that the political polarisation on ethnic lines following violence in Manipur may boost its chances.

However, it is the Assembly polls in three Hindi-speaking states, a BJP stronghold in two consecutive Lok Sabha polls, besides Telangana, which are likely to have an outsize influence on national politics. Despite losing to the Congress in the Assembly contests, the BJP had swept the 2019 national elections in the three Central and western states, which together account for 65 Lok Sabha constituencies, but knows that no two polls are alike and has been making big moves to regain power there.

The BJP is also hoping to emerge as a big force in Telangana where, observers believe, the Congress has seen a rebound in its fortunes since the Karnataka polls in May.

Welcoming the announcement of Assembly polls by the EC, BJP president J P Nadda claimed that his party will form government in all the states with a big majority under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership.

Reacting to the announcement of the polls, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the party will go to the people with strength and outlined public welfare, social justice and progressive development as its guarantees. Addressing party leaders at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Kharge called for unity and discipline ahead of polls.

BRS working president K T Rama Rao said K Chandrasekhar Rao will become the Chief Minister of Telangana once again and hoped that the polls in the state are “one-sided” in favour of the ruling BRS.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi hoped that K Chandrasekhar Rao will become chief minister once again, making it a hat-trick of victories, after the November 30 Assembly polls.

There will be zero tolerance for the use of money power and there will be a strict vigil over suspicious online cash transfers through wallets as well, the CEC said.

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