New Delhi, March 10
The Election Commission today announced a seven-phase poll schedule for the Lok Sabha and four state Assemblies. The first phase of polling would be held on April 11, while May 19 would witness the last phase. The counting of votes would take place on May 23.
Announcing that the model code of conduct kicks in with immediate effect, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said 10 lakh polling stations would be set up this time as against about nine lakh in 2014. Around 90 crore persons would be eligible to vote for the 543 Lok Sabha seats across the country.
In 2014, the LS elections were held in nine phases — April 7 to May 9. This time, the first phase would be held on April 11, second on April 18, third on April 23, fourth on April 29, fifth on May 6, sixth on May 12 and seventh on May 19.
The poll panel announced that the “voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT)” would be used at all polling stations. But the matching of VVPAT slips would be done for randomly selected one polling station in every Assembly segment. With the coming into force of the code of conduct, the Centre or state governments would not be able to announce new policy decisions.
The stage has been set for an absorbing electoral battle between the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the Opposition block comprising the Congress, Left and regional outfits. Even as the ruling NDA, led by PM Modi, is trying to retain power banking on its development plank and the government’s muscular policy against terrorism and a hostile Pakistan, the Opposition is striving hard to unseat the BJP by raising questions on economic growth, jobs, corruption and social harmony. — TNS
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