New Delhi: The Election Commission on Wednesday announced the poll dates for elections to five state assemblies – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand.
Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur will be held between February 4 and March 8, Chief Election Commissioner Dr Nasim Zaidisaid.
The results from all five states will be known on March 11, Zaidi told a press conference here.
While polling in Goa and Punjab will take place on February 4, Uttarakhand will vote on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and 8.
Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, will go to the polls in seven phases:- February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27 and March 4 and 8.
This will be the single biggest electoral exercise since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and will involve a total of 690 constituencies, 403 of them in Uttar Pradesh alone.
Goa has 40 seats, Punjab 117, Manipur 60 and Uttarakhand has 70 seats.
“We are committed to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner,” Zaidi said. The Election Commission would also check the “misuse of black money and liquor”.
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The CEC flanked by the two Election Commissioners AK Joti and OP Rawat announced that the poll process will commence with the issue of notification on January 11 for Punjab and Goa polls where candidates can start filing their nominations.
“The Model Code of Conduct will come into immediate effect and will apply on political parties and state governments concerned, besides the Central government in terms of announcements in these states,” Zaidi told reporters.
The CEC said candidates will have to open a fresh bank account for all election expenses and all expenses above Rs 20,000 will be made through cheques from their respective accounts. He added that all donations will also be accepted through cheques.
The maximum limit for expenses for each candidates in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand is Rs 28 lakh, while that in Goa and Manipur is Rs 20 lakh, he said.
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As per the announcement, assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in 7 phases.
Date of polls for Phase 1 – Feb 11; Phase 2 – Feb 15; Phase 3 – Feb 19; Phase 4- Feb 23; Phase 5 Feb 27; Phase 6 – March 4; Phase 7 – March 8.
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.
The assembly polls in Punjab will be held in single phase on 4 Feb.
Punjab is expected to witness a three-corner fight among ruling Akali Dal and BJP alliance, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The assembly polls in Goa will be held in single phase on 4 Feb.
In Goa, while BJP is eyeing to retain power, the ruling party is locked in a triangular contest with Congress and AAP.
The assembly polls in Uttarakhand will be held on Feb 15 in single phase.
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.
The assembly polls in Manipur will be held in held in two phases. First phase will be held on March 4 and the second phase on March 8,
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.
Here are the highlights of CEC Dr Naseem Zaidi’s press conference:-
-Counting of polls for all 5 states will take place on March 11th: ECI
-Expenses above Rs 20,000 have to be out of bank accounts to be set up and it has to be through cheques: ECI
-There will be strict expenditure monitor mechanism to curb black money: CEC Nasim Zaidi
-Kiosks/bastas set up by candidates will be deemed to be set up by candidates, to be included in election exp. by candidates: CEC
-Sound pollution is a concern, no use of loudspeakers after 10 pm. Police and electoral officers will ensure clampdown on it: CEC.
-ECI discourages use of environmentally hazardous material in Assembly Elections campaigns: CEC Nasim Zaidi
-The limit for expenses for candidates is Rs 28 lakh for UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand & Rs 20 lakh for Manipur and Goa: ECI
-Polling station-wise mapping of Persons with Disabilities being done; Assembly Elections to be Persons with Disabilities-friendly: CEC
-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.
Present Strength of State Assemblies
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.
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 has come into force after the formal announcement of the poll dates by the ECI.