The Election Commission on Saturday announced the seven-phase elections for five state assemblies starting from February 14 to March 7. The date of counting for all states has been fixed for March 10.
While Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will have single-phase polling on February 14, Manipur will have it in two-phase elections on February 27 and March 3, the Commission said. As regards Uttar Pradesh, it would have seven-phase polling on February 10, February 14, February 20, February 23, February 27, March 3 and March 7, said the Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra while addressing a press conference.
In wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the CEC has also banned physical public rallies till January 15 and would decide on public rallies after January only after reviewing the Covid-19 situation in the state.
The Commission has told political parties not to carry ‘road shows’ during the campaigning, ‘victory procession’ after the results are declared, and a maximum cap of five people during ‘door to door’ campaign.
The Commission is also issuing advisories to all political parties to strictly follow all the Covid-19 guidelines and Covid-protocols. If the candidates are not found following the guidelines in letter and spirit, the Commission would take strict action against the erring candidates and the political parties, the CEC said.
“Even action would be taken against senior government officials if they did not take action against the erring candidates,” the CEC said.
The Commission has worked with three major objectives, one Covid-19 safe elections, hassle free voting experience to voters, and maximum voter’s participation. All the Covid guidelines are prepared after interacting with state health secretaries, experts, centre, security officials and all political parties.
According to a rough estimate more than 18.34 crore voters would exercise their franchise in these five state assemblies, with a substantial increase in women voter participation. The CEC said UP witnessed a 29 per cent increase in women voters, Goa 24 per cent increase, Manipur 19 per cent, Uttarakhand 18 per cent and Punjab 10 per cent, the Commission said.
There would be around 24.9 lakh first time voters in these five state assembly polls, the CEC said.
In wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the Commission has also reduced the maximum number of electors in a polling station from 1500 per polling booth to 1200. As a result the polling stations have also been increased by 16 per cent to reduce the crowd at a polling station, the Commission said.