The Big Fight

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Nine-phase elections from April 7 to May 12, results on May 16

The Big Fight
The Election Commission on Tuesday unveiled Independent India’s longest poll schedule spread over nine days, which will see an estimated 81.4 crore voters exercising their franchise, making it the biggest election the world has ever seen. Some 1.1 crore polling officials, which will include security personnel, will be involved in conducting the elections.

The commission said polls to the 16th Lok Sabha would be held over 72 days from April 7 through May 12 and the results would be announced on May 16. Elections to the assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, including the newly-created Tela­ngana, Odisha and Sikkim will be held simultaneously.

For the first time, electorate across the country will have the option of not choosing anyone from the list of candidates during the Lok Sabha polls. In another first, paper trail will be used for the first time on an experimental basis in some 20,000 EVMs, enabling voters to verify whether her vote has been cast correctly. Over 17 lakh EVMs will be used in the polls.

The model code of conduct restricting the incumbent government from making any fresh announcement came into force immediately. Chief election commissioner (CEC) V S Sampath — flanked by the two election commissioners, H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi — said the exercise would be completed in three days less time than the last general election in 2009.

The CEC said the model code of conduct is an instrument through which a level-playing field is ensured and that his team would not hesitate to use its power to ensure its effectiveness.

“One of the aspects of the model code is that the party in power will not get any undue advantage. Any action taken by any authority will be examined with regard to the parameters of the model code. We have never hesitated to use our power,” the CEC said.

Sampath appealed to the political parties to uphold the democratic traditions of the nation by maintaining high standards in political discourse and fair play in their campaigns.

The fifth phase of election will be the biggest with 122 seats in 13 states going to polls on April 17 .Polling in the crucial states of UP and Bihar will be held over six days — April 10, 17, 24 and 30 and May 7 and 12. Punjab (13), Tamil Nadu (39), Puducherry (1) and Uttarakhand (5) will have single-day polling on April 24 or 30 and Gujarat (26 seats), Haryana (10) and Himachal Pradesh (4) will vote on April 30, April 10 and May 7 respectively. Kerala (20) and Karnataka (28) will have polls on April 10 and 17, respectively. Delhi will vote on April 10.

Bye-elections for 23 Assembly seats — Bihar (2), Gujarat (7), Madhya Prad­esh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram (one each), Uttar Pradesh (4) and West Bengal (6) — will be held simultaneously.

The election commission has asked all those whose names have been deleted from the electoral lists to register themselves on March 9. A special camp will be organised at all the 9.3 lakh polling stations on March 9 for this purpose.

Aspiring candidates will have the option of e-filing affidavits this time.

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