M A I N   N E W S

Poll dates for 4 states, one UT announced
Election in six phases in WB, two stages in Assam and on a single day in TN, Kerala and Puducherry

New Delhi, March 1
Six-stage Assembly poll in West Bengal, a two-phase election in Assam and a single day poll in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry were today announced by the Election Commission, setting in motion the largest such exercise after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

With parts of the state affected by Maoists activities, West Bengal will have elections in six phases on April 18, 23, 27, May 3, 7 and 10, in perhaps the longest ever in the state, also known for political violence. Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry will go to polls on Apri1 13 while Assam's two-phased poll is scheduled on April 4 and 11. Counting of votes in all the five states will take place on May 13.

The model code of conduct has come into force immediately, Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said while announcing the schedule. While West Bengal has 294 Assembly constituencies, Tamil Nadu has 234, Kerala 140, Assam 126 and Puducherry 30. The elections are the first battle of the ballot in the new year and would involve over 14.39 crore electorate in the five states with West Bengal having the largest number of over 5.6 crore electors followed by Tamil Nadu’s 4.59 crore.

While Kerala has 2.29 crore electors, Assam 1.81 crore and Puducherry is merely over eight lakh. Polling will be held through electronic voting machines.

Asked as to why the EC has gone in for a six-phased polls in West Bengal, the CEC said that a decision was taken keeping in view the “ground realities”. The EC had already sent two teams to the state to study the law and order situation.

On reports that 100 companies of Central Paramilitary forces have been made available for the conduct of elections, he merely said that the EC never discloses the forces it has and the government has assured adequate forces for ensuring free and fair polls.

A highlight this time is that Overseas Indians could exercise their franchise in person and instructions had been issued to facilitate their voting. There will be as many as 54,016 polling stations in Tamil Nadu, 51,919 in West Bengal, 23,813 in Assam, 20,758 in Kerala and 851 in Puducherry.

Quraishi said all critical events, including filing of nominations, scrutiny and allotment of symbols, will be videographed. Digital cameras would also be deployed inside polling booths wherever needed and inside all counting centres. — PTI





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