M A I N   N E W S

Poll dates out for 5 states
7-phase polling in UP from Feb 4
Punjab & Uttarakhand to vote on Jan 30, Manipur Jan 28 and Goa March 3
Code of conduct comes into force
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, December 24
The Election Commission today announced the schedule for the Assembly polls in five states, setting the stage for a key electoral battle that is bound to have a bearing on national politics.

The election to the 117-member Punjab Assembly will be held in a single phase on January 30 while Uttar Pradesh, which has a 403-member Assembly, will witness a seven-phase voting on February 4, 8, 11,15, 19, 23 and 28.

The elections in Uttarakhand will be held on January 30, Goa on March 3 and Manipur on January 28. Counting of votes will take place in all the five states on March 4.

The notification for the elections in Punjab will be issued on January 5, Uttarakhand on January 5, Manipur on January 4 and Goa on February 6. The notification for the elections in UP will be issued on January 10, 12, 16, 21, 25 and 28 and February 2 respectively, for the seven phases.

Announcing the election schedule at a press conference here this evening, Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said the model code of conduct has come into force with immediate effect.

The poll schedule is likely to affect the presentation of the Railway Budget and the General Budget. The budgets are normally presented in the last week of February, but this time the Model Code of Conduct will last till March 9. Asked whether the schedule will affect the budgets, Quraishi said: “That is something the government will have to take care of.”

In a first, the EVMs will have signs in Braille to facilitate the blind voters. The EC has also introduced a toll-free number 1950 for redressel of complaints.

Cutting short the term of the Assembly by about two months could deprive Mayawati an opportunity to use her absolute majority in the House to boost her party’s strength in the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha in April. The Congress is using all the forces at its command to improve its tally in the state.

The decision of the Centre to grant 4.5 per cent reservation to the minorities within the 27 per cent OBC quota is being seen as a clear move by the UPA government to woo the Muslims, who play a significant role in deciding the verdict in many constituencies in UP.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which wields considerable influence in Western UP, recently joined the UPA which could boost the prospects of the Congress in UP.

In Punjab, it will again be a battle between the Congress and the Akali Dal-BJP combine while Uttarakhand will see a straight contest between the Congress and the ruling BJP, which had recently changed its CM to give an image makeover to the state government.

In an attempt to check the misuse of black money in the polls, the Election Commission has decided to appoint adequate number of expenditure observers and assistant expenditure observers who would exclusively monitor the expenditure of the contesting candidates.

For greater transparency and for easy monitoring by the Election Commission, candidates would be required to open a separate bank account and incur their election expenses for that very account. Comprehensive instructions for the purpose of effective monitoring of the election expenditure of the candidates, including formation of flying squads, video surveillance teams in the constituency and involvement of investigation directorates of the income tax department, have also been issued by the EC.

To deal with ‘paid news’, monitoring committees have been set up at district, state and Election Commission levels and necessary instructions issued to the district election officers.

The Election Commission also conducted a meeting with Director Generals (Narcotics) of five states to prevent the use of drugs during voting period.

Quraishi said the election dates have been decided taking into consideration climatic conditions, academic schedules, festivals, law and order, availability of security forces, time needed for their movement and deployment and other ground realities.





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