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  India   All India  17 Mar 2024  7-phase LS polls over 44 days to start April 19, results on June 4

7-phase LS polls over 44 days to start April 19, results on June 4

THE ASIAN AGE. | VINEETA PANDEY
Published : Mar 17, 2024, 2:02 am IST
Updated : Mar 17, 2024, 2:02 am IST

UP, Bengal, Bihar to have 7-phase voting; 4 state polls with LS

Voting will take place in Delhi on May 25. Among other metros, Chennai will vote first on April 19, followed by Bengaluru on April 26, Hyderabad on May 13, Mumbai on May 20 and Kolkata in the final phase on June 1. (AFP)
 Voting will take place in Delhi on May 25. Among other metros, Chennai will vote first on April 19, followed by Bengaluru on April 26, Hyderabad on May 13, Mumbai on May 20 and Kolkata in the final phase on June 1. (AFP)

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday got the ball rolling for the 18th Lok Sabha elections that will begin from April 19 and end on June 1. Spread over one and a half months, the elections for 543 parliamentary seats will be held in seven phases -- on April 19, April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1. The counting of votes will be held on June 4. The tenure of the current Lok Sabha ends on June 16.

States like West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will vote in all seven phases while Maharashtra and Jammu Kashmir will vote in five phases. Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand vote in four phases, Assam and Chhattisgarh in three phases. Voting in a single phase will take place in 22 states, while four states -- Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tripura and violence-hit Manipur -- will vote over two days.

Voting will take place in Delhi on May 25. Among other metros, Chennai will vote first on April 19, followed by Bengaluru on April 26, Hyderabad on May 13, Mumbai on May 20 and Kolkata in the final phase on June 1.

The announcement was made by chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar, who was flanked by his two new deputies Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, who were chosen as election commissioners by the government on Thursday and took charge on Friday. “Our team is now complete, we are fully prepared for the biggest festival of Indian democracy,” Mr Kumar said. The CEC said seven phases were necessary keeping in mind geographic conditions, festivals, examination and other factors.

With Saturday’s announcement, the Model Code of Conduct is in force, and the EC has written to all chief secretaries of the states saying that ministers cannot mix official work with electioneering and that official transport cannot be used for election work.

The prolonged poll schedule in West Bengal and Bihar are expected to lead to sharp reactions from political parties in these states, particularly the Trinamul Congress in West Bengal. However, in 2019 too, West Bengal had voted in seven phases while it was nine in 2014. In fact, some reports indicated that the prolonged elections in West Bengal along with the use of excessive security forces in the state to check violence was one of the trigger points for election commissioner Arun Goel to resign around ten days back.

The chief election commissioner evaded a proper response to a question about the reason for Mr Goel’s departure. All he said was: “Arun Goel was a very distinguished team member… and we must respect if he had personal reasons to quit.”

There are 543 parliamentary seats, of which 84 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 43 for Scheduled Tribes. Assembly polls in Sikkim, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh will be held along with byelections to 26 Assembly constituencies in Bihar, Haryana, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

The CEC made it clear strict action will be taken against hate speech and personal attacks on candidates. However, he evaded a question on why action was always against Opposition leaders and parties and not against top leaders of ruling parties like the BJP who make personal comments and indulge in hate speeches.

“The plummeting level of political discourse is of concern, and we will go beyond moral censure to act against Model Code violators. We have issued strong advisories to all parties. Have compiled MCC violations in the last five years. We are putting political parties on notice. This time we will go beyond just issuing notices and take action as per provisions in the law. Candidates should not cross the red lines. Parties must maintain decorum during campaigning, refrain from abuse and personal attacks. Campaigns should be issue-based not about hate, religion and private lives of the leaders. Please be civilised and do not create a digital footprint. We should not say something against a rival that we regret later as foes often become friends these days”, the CEC said. “Dushmani jam kar karo, lekin ye gunjaish rahe ki jab kabhi hum dost ho jayen tau sharminda na hon,” the CEC said, using a dash of poetry on and off during the announcement.

On poll violence, the CEC said the EC will be “ruthless”. According to the EC, 2,100 observers will keep an eye on poll conduct and expenditure and a check on inducement and coercion. Security will be heightened at the international borders, the CEC said. On the reason for not holding Assembly elections in Jammu Kashmir along with the Lok Sabha polls, the CEC said the state needed more security forces for the protection of candidates and it was not possible at present to spare additional security staff. “EC stands committed to holding Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir soon after the LS elections,” Mr Kumar said.

With regard to polls in Manipur, the EC said it had reviewed the ground situation in the state and noted that a large number of electors registered in different constituencies of Manipur were displaced from their native places during recent conflicts. They are now residing in relief camps in various districts of Manipur.

“The commission, after due consultation with various stakeholders, has decided that special polling stations shall be set up at/near the camps where such electors, who opt for such facility, will be able to register their votes in EVMs. In this regard, a detailed scheme for internally displaced persons of Manipur to vote in relief camps has been issued by the commission on 29th February, 2024,” the EC said. In Manipur, the voting will take place over two days.

The CEC dismissed allegations that EVMs can be rigged. “Courts looked into various complaints against EVMs 40 times and rejected all charges every time. All parties know in their hearts that EVMs have made the poll process fairer and better; same EVMs have seen ruling parties lose,” Mr Rajiv Kumar added.

 

Tags: lok sabha election 2024, election commission
Location: India, Delhi