Elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19 and votes will be counted on May 23
New Delhi (IANS): With the Election Commission announcing the Lok Sabha poll schedule on Sunday, political parties are expected to expedite the process of candidate selection as also that of forming alliances in the next few days.
While the Congress has come with its first list of 15 candidates that includes names of party chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to come up with its first list, which is expected this week.
The opposition parties in Bihar have not yet announced their grand alliance in the state. There has also been no formal announcement of a tie-up in Jammu and Kashmir as also in West Bengal.
In Delhi, though the ruling Aam Aadmi Party has declared its candidates on most of the seats and Congress has declared its intentions to fight separately, there is still speculation of the possibility of the two parties coming together.
The notification for the first phase of Lok Sabha polls will be made on March 18 and the last date of filing nominations is March 25. The polling of the first phase for 91 seats across 20 states will be held on April 11, almost a month from now.
The political parties are expected to draw out a detailed schedule of campaigning by their top leaders over the next few days as also give final touches to their manifestos.
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, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora announced on Sunday.
Calling the Indian parliamentary battle the “largest festival of democracy”, he said that 91 constituencies (spread across 20 states) will see polling on April 11, 97 constituencies (13 states) on April 18, 115 (14) on April 23, 71 (9) on April 29, 51 (7) on May 6, 59 (also 7) on May 12 and 59 constituencies (8 states) on May 19.
The staggered election will see about 900 million voters, up from 814.5 million in 2014, when Narendra Modi led the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to power ending a decade of Congress-headed UPA rule.
Of this, some 15 million will be first-time voters in the age group of 18 to 19 years.
Approximately 1 million polling stations, 100,000 more than in 2014, will be set up and a total of 1.74 million VVPATs will be used with electronic voting machines (EVMs) in all polling stations, Arora told a crowded press conference.
“The Election Commission has attempted a very comprehensive preparation for the conduct of the election”, he said.
“The panel believes that purity of electoral roll is the foundation of fair elections,” he added.
ASSEMBLY elections will also be simultaneously held in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim while the demand of parties for Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir has not been accepted due to security considerations, Arora said at the media conference flanked by ECs Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.
The Assembly elections in these four states will be held on the day the states choose their Lok Sabha representatives.
By-elections to 34 Assembly seats in 12 states, including 18 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, which could decide the fortunes of the ruling AIADMK, will be held simultaneously.
In the last Lok Sabha polls, held over nine phases, the BJP under Modi got a single-party majority of 282 seats for the first time, which was also the first for any party in 30 years.
The 17th Lok Sabha polls will be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19.
In the first phase, 91 seats spread across 20 states and union territories – Andhra Pradesh (25), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Assam (5), Bihar (4), Chhattisgarh (1), Jammu and Kashmir (2), Maharashtra (7), Manipur (1), Meghalaya (2) Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1) Odisha (4), Sikkim (1) Telangana (17), Tripura (1), Uttar Pradesh (8), Uttarkhand (5), West Bengal (2), Andaman and Nicobar (1) and Lakshadweep (1).
A total of 97 seats in 13 states and a union territory will go to polls in the second phase on April 18 – Assam (5), Bihar (5), Chhattisgarh (3), Jammu and Kashmir (2), Karnataka (14), Maharashtra (10), Manipur (1), Odisha (5), Tamil Nadu (39), Tripura (1), Uttar Pradesh (8), West Bengal (3) and Puducherry (1).
Phase three on April 23 will see polling in 115 seats across 14 states and union territories – Assam (4), Bihar (5), Chhattisgarh (7), Gujarat (26), Goa (2), Jammu and Kashmir (1), Karnataka (14), Kerala (20), Maharashtra (14), Odisha (6), Uttar Pradesh 10, West Bengal (5), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1) and Daman and Diu (1).
Elections in phase four on April 29 will be held in 71 seats across nine states – Bihar (5), Jammu and Kashmir (1), Jharkhand (3), Madhya Pradesh (6), Maharashtra (17), Odisha (6), Rajasthan (13), Uttar Pradesh (13) and West Bengal (8).
Phase five on May 6 will witness polling in 51 seats in seven states – Bihar (5), Jammu and Kashmir (2), Jammu and Kashmir (2), Jharkhand (4), Madhya Pradesh (7), Rajasthan (12), Uttar Pradesh (14) and West Bengal (7).
On May 12, in the sixth phase of polling covering 59 seats in seven states – Bihar (8), Haryana (10), Jharkhand (4), Madhya Pradesh (8), Uttar Pradesh (14), West Bengal (8) and Delhi (7).
In the final phase of polling on May, elections will be held in 59 seats in eight states – Bihar (8), Jharkhand (3), Madhya Pradesh (8), Rajasthan (13), Punjab (13), West Bengal (9), Chandigarh (1), Uttar Pradesh 13 and Himachal Pradesh (4).
Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Delhi and Chandigarh will have a single-day polling.
Karnataka, Manipur, Rajasthan and Tripura will have a two-phased, while Assam and Chhattisgarh will have three-phased elections. Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha will have four phases while Jammu and Kashmir will have five phases.
No state has six-phased polling. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal will have polling in seven phases.
Arora said the phases have been decided due to several factors including the availability of central paramilitary forces, who move by trains from state to state.
On simultaneous Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been demanded by the mainstream parties during the tour of the state by the Commission, the CEC said that they were making an announcement only about the parliamentary polls due to factors such as constraints of requirement of forces for security of candidates.
“Keeping the totality of factors in mind, the schedule of only parliamentary polls in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is being announced,” he said.
With January 1 this year as the cut off date, the total number of voters in this elections are likely to be around 900 million, which is over 83 million compared to the last polls in 2014. There are about 15 million voters in the age group of 18 to 19.