LS polls start April 11, to be held in 7 phases
Election Commission announces dates on Sunday, says counting of all votes to be held on May 23
Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and polling would be held over seven phases through May 19, followed by counting of all votes on May 23, the Election Commission (EC) announced on Sunday.
Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal, Odisha and Sikkim will also be held simultaneously, the EC said. However, elections for the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Assembly, which was dissolved after the ruling coalition between the BJP and the PDP fell apart, will not be held along with the Lok Sabha polls.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the model code of conduct would come into immediate effect from Sunday and 10 lakh polling stations would be set up this time as against about nine lakh in 2014. Nearly 90 crore voters would be eligible to vote for 543 Lok Sabha constituencies across the country. The election will pit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance against several Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Left and regional forces, who are continuing to work out a grand alliance to minimise division of votes against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led ruling combine.
The BJP has succeeded in working out seat-sharing formula with some new allies and several old partners, by even making concessions to them in states like Bihar. However, Opposition parties are yet to arrive at a deal in several states.
The first phase of the elections will be held on April 11, second on April 18, third on April 23 and fourth on April 29, fifth on May 6, sixth on May 12 and seventh phase on May 19. Counting of all votes would take place on May 23, Arora said.
BJD to field 33% women candidates
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday said the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would field 33% women among its candidates in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, terming the move a "benchmark for women empowerment". Making the announcement at a rally in Kendrapara, the BJD president said the step would lead the way in empowering women.
AAP launches campaign in Delhi
The ruling AAP in Delhi launched its mega campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, with full statehood as its central theme, staging a protest near the BJP headquarters over the issue. The LS polls will decide the fate of the country and also of Delhi, which was badly hurt during the "dictatorship" of the BJP-led dispensation at the Centre, said Delhi AAP Convener Gopal Rai.
Model code of conduct comes into effect
The Election Commission imposed the model code of conduct with immediate effect for the Lok Sabha elections and announced that voter-verifiable paper audit trail will be used in all polling stations this time. Among other things, the model code of conduct bars the government from announcing any policy move that may impact voters' decision.
Rajinikanth to not contest bypoll
Top film star Rajinikanth on Sunday said he would not contest the bypoll expected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly, nearly a month after declaring that his target was only the Assembly election. While bypolls are expected to 21 Assembly constituencies in the state, Rajinikanth, when asked if he would fight the bypoll since he had declared the Assembly polls to be his only target, tersely said, 'No'.
Mark the dates
April 18: Second phase of polls
April 23: Third phase of polls
April 29: Fourth phase of polls
May 6: Fifth phase of polls
May 12: Sixth phase of polls
May 19: Last phase of polls
543: No. of Lok Sabha constituencies going to polls
90 cr: No. of voters eligible to vote
10 lakh: No. of polling stations to be set up
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