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UP poll in 7 phases
April 7 to May 8
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
The Election Commission today announced seven phase polling for the 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly. This is likely to act as the much-needed face-saver for the Congress, which had raised its stakes quite high and a confrontation with the Left parties was brewing.

The announcement of the month-long elections also provides a breather for not only Mr Mulayam Singh, who had to prove majority on February 26, but also to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, as he would have been in the midst of a political controversy had the state government got dismissed.

After discussions with union home secretary V.K. Duggal, chief election commissioner N. Gopalaswami announced the schedule. The first phase of polling would begin on April 7 and the seventh and the last phase would be held on May 8.

Byelections to three Lok Sabha seats, Robertsganj, Mirzapur, and Bilhour, would be held on the day their respective Assembly segment would go for elections.

Counting of votes in all these elections would be taken up on May 11. The model code of conduct will come into force immediately. The Assembly would have to be constituted by May 14, when the term of the present Assembly ends. The notification for the first phase would be made on March 13 and for the last phase on April 13.

Elections will he held in 62 constituencies in the first phase on April 7, while 58 constituencies will go to polls in the second phase on April 13. Similarly, third phase on April 18 and fourth phase on April 23 will see voting in 57 constituencies each, polling will be held in 58 constituencies on April 28 in the fifth phase, 52 constituencies on May 3 in the sixth phase and in 59 constituencies in the last phase on May 8.

“There are 1.10 lakh polling stations in the state,” the Mr Gopalaswami said, reasoning the rationale for multi-phased polling in the state.

Asked whether the Congress-led coalition at the Centre could still go ahead with the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttar Pradesh, the commissioner quoted a Tamil proverb, which he translated as, “We will cross the bridge when it comes”.

When asked whether the commission had come to the rescue of the Manmohan Singh government, he said, “As far as we are concerned the clock of constitutional mandate started ticking from yesterday. Even by this schedule there would be only one day left after the counting of votes before the expiry of the existing term of the state Assembly”.

The notification though does not bar the Centre from President’s Rule in the state, legal experts pointed out that such a measure would be resorted only in extraordinary situation of breakdown of constitutional mechanism.

The commission’s announcement of the schedule came as a surprise as the Congress had initiated an exercise aimed at dislodging the Mulayam Singh government in the wake of disqualification of 13 BSP MLAs by the Supreme Court last week.

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Poll schedule long: Mulayam

Lucknow, February 21
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav said the schedule of assembly polls in the state “definitely long” which would pose problems for political parties, officials as also the voters.

“It is true that staggering the polls in seven phases will pose some problems for the parties, officials as also the electorate”, Yadav said when asked to comment on the poll schedule announced by the Election Commission in Delhi. — PTI

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