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Poll schedule for 5 States likely by March 7

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hinted at the Election Commission (EC) declaring dates for Assembly polls in five States by March 7

Dhemaji: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hinted at the Election Commission (EC) declaring dates for Assembly polls in five States by March 7.

While addressing a public meeting at Silapathar in Assam's Dhemaji district, Modi said, "Last time in 2016, the Assembly poll dates were announced on March 4. This year, it is my assumption that the EC will announce the dates for Assembly polls by March 7." "It is up to them (EC) to announce the dates but till the announcement was made, I will visit Assam, West Bengal, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Kerala as much as I can," he added.

Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry are likely to be held in April and May.

On January 21, the full bench of the EC, led by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, visited West Bengal and held a meeting in Kolkata with top bureaucrats and leaders of all political parties in West Bengal to discuss preparedness and hear grievances or suggestions for the upcoming Assembly polls. Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajeev Kumar also accompanied Arora.

The EC, sensing law and order issues, has suggested to increase the number of paramilitary forces during the polls. They have also sought a report on existing movable and non-movable infrastructures in the State to hold free and fair polls in the State. Not the least, the ECI officials suggested that there should be more booths as compared to the last Assembly polls for better management of the whole electoral process. Interestingly, on January 19, a day before ECI's full bench visit to Bengal, the State government has appointed two senior IAS officers, including Smatraki Mahapatra and Sanghamitra Ghosh as joint chief electoral officer and additional chief electoral officer, respectively.

The bench also held meetings with the divisional commissioners, DMs and SPs of the districts and senior administrative officials including the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and DGP to prepare a ground report to hold the polls. Recently on January 15, the ECI has issued a statement which reads, "Many instances have come to the notice of the Commission wherein Chief Electoral Officers and some other officials working directly in the office of Chief Electoral Officers like Additional Chief Electoral Officers and Joint Chief Electoral Officers, etc. have been victimised after the elections are over. Ironically, in most such instances the concerned officers had discharged their duties in an impartial manner in order to ensure free, fair, robust and ethical elections."

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