Lok Sabha Elections to take place in nine phases starting from 7th April; To end on 12th May; Counting to take place on 16th.
- Simultaneous Assembly elections to be held in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim.
- Model Code of Conduct comes into force with immediate effect.
- Congress and BJP welcome poll schedule.
- Aam Aadmi Party Leader Arvind Kejriwal begins 4-day campaign in Gujarat.
- And, in the Asia Cup Cricket, India play inconsequential match against Afghanistan.
The elections to the 16th Lok Sabha, spread over nine phases, will begin from 7th April and will continue till 12th May. The counting will take place on 16th May. The first polling day on April 7 will cover five Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam and one in Tripura while the second on the 9th of April will cover seven constituencies spread over Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. 92 constituencies in 14 states including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will go to polls on the 10th of April. Five constituencies in three states including Assam, will be covered on the fourth day on April 12.
122 Lok Sabha seats will go to polls in 13 states on April 17, the fifth day of the poll. The states included in this phase are Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar. The sixth phase will witness polling in 117 seats in 12 states including Assam, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh on the 24th April.
The seventh day of polling on April 30 will choose representatives in 89 constituencies spread over nine states including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 64 seats in seven states including Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal will be covered in the 8th phase on 7th May. Polling will come to an end on 12th May with elections in 41 constituencies in Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Notification for the first phase will be issued on 14th of March and last and the ninth phase on 17th of April.
Announcing poll schedules, the Chief Election Commissioner, CEC, VS Sampath said that the Assembly elections in Sikkim, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh will be held simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls. Election for 119 seats of Andhra Pradesh Assembly will be held on 30 April and for 175 seats on 7th of May. Odisha Assembly will also witness two phase poll with 70 seats going to polls on 10th April and 77 on 17th April. Polling for all 32 Assembly seats in Sikkim will be held on 12th of April. Mr. Sampath said that voters enrollment has already been updated and about 81.4 crore voters have enrolled their names in the list so far.
"Total electorate, as of now, is approximately 81.4 crores, which is about 10 crores more than the last Parliamentary elections. There have been complaints about certain people not finding their names in the electoral rolls. We have decided to offer one more opportunity for enrollment. 9th March, this is the day when in all the polling stations, booth level officers will be sitting with the electoral roll and application forms, for such people who seek enrollment."
The CEC said that approximately nine lakh thirty thousand Polling Stations across the country will be set up for voting at 543 Lok Sabha Constituencies in nine polling days.
The Chief Election Commissioner said that Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect.
"From today, the Model code of Conduct has come into place. We will examine every action under the ambit of Model Code. Normally Model code does not interfere with statutory constitutional appointments."
Mr Sampath said for the first time in the Lok Sabha elections, the Commission will deploy Central Awareness Observers to oversee the effective management of the electoral process at the field level mainly in respect of voter awareness and facilitation. Regarding the checking of illegal money flow, he said, Expenditure Observers from Central Government Services would be appointed to keep a close watch on election expenditure of the candidates.
"Use of money power is one of the biggest challenges, particularly in some states. In addition to the expenditure observer, there will be an assistant expenditure observer. We will have large number of flying squads, check posts, media monitoring screening committees. In addition, central police force will be deployed in advance in those states where expenditure is a critical factor. Commission will spare no efforts in controlling the evil use of money power."
On paid news, Mr Sampath said that the Election Commission has asked the Centre to make it an electoral offence to curb its menace.
The CEC added that to facilitate the voters to know where he or she is enrolled as a voter and the serial number in the Electoral Roll, the Commission has made arrangements for the distribution of photo voter slips.
"Photo voter slips, this is another feature which will be introduced in this General Elections, though we have been using it in the foregoing State Assembly Elections. The Commission has directed that a photocopy of the electoral roll relating to that voter shall be distributed at his doorstep, close to the date of the poll."
The CEC said, the NOTA option will be introduced in the general election for the first time.
"NOTA facility in the voting machines, this was introduced in the last 5 state elections, persuant to the order of the hon'ble Supreme Court. NOTA facility shall be provided in General Elections 2014 also, and appropriate instructions will be issued."
Our correspondent has filed this report:
"The 16th Lok Sabha election has the highest number of polling days till date. The whole exercise involving an electorate of 81.4 crore will be over in 72 days. For the first time in Parliamentary polls, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial or VVPAT will be introduced in some constituencies on a trial basis. It will allow voters to get a visual confirmation of who they voted for with the help of printed slips from Electronic Voting Machines, EVMs. It will help in creating a fool-proof record of voting and avoid controversies in case of a dispute. The Election Commission will use IT for better management of elections by applications such as SMS-based poll monitoring, election monitoring dashboards for officers at all levels, and EVM tracking through software. A total of 1.1 crore poll personnel, half of them being security forces, will be deployed for the smooth conduct of polls and to ensure that they are free and fair. With Sant Bahadur, Zakir Malik, AIR News, Delhi."
Major political parties have welcomed the poll schedule. Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh said that nine phase elections will ensure security during the polls.
"It is a very long schedule, but afterall the hon'ble Election Commission must have deliberated, discussed and decided it so that the elections are peaceful and impartial."
BJP Spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said that addition of 10 crore voters this time is the most exciting feature.
"The most noticeable feature of this election is the addition of 10 crore more voters, substantially young. They are having a dream about India. It is a dream of a young, resurgent, aspirational India. We have to respond to that."
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari has said that the upcoming Lok Sabha election will be an ideological fight among the contestants.
"A vision of pluralism, a vision of secularism which is represented by the Congress party, and a sectarian, communal and fundamentalist vision which is really encapsulated in the ideological disposition of the principal opposition party or BJP. Of course there are other players in the field too, but this is really going to be a clash of the two visions of India."
Aam Aadmi Party, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has said that he would like to see the ground situation of the tall claims of development in Gujarat. He was speaking to media persons at Ahmedabad Airport this morning at the start of his four days visit to the state. Mr. Kejriwal said that BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has made big claims of development in education sector and employment generation in Gujarat and he would like to see it.
The AAP Chief was received by thousands of party workers carrying party symbol in hand at the Airport. After a small road show at Ahmedabad Airport, Mr. Kejriwal directly rushed to Bahuchraji to meet the farmers, where Gujarat Government had allotted agriculture land to the Tata's Nano car project. Mr. Kejriwal is also likely to visit Kutch and Jamnagar to listen to the plights of farmers before his public meeting in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
Our Ahmedabad Correspondent reports, this is the first visit of the Aam Aadmi Party Chief to Gujarat after he resigned as the Chief Minister of Delhi.
The ongoing strike that has crippled medical services in Uttar Pradesh has further intensified, as 24 medicos, who were granted bail, have refused to come out of the jail. The 24 medicos of GSVM College Kanpur refused to sign the personal bond, which is mandatory for an inmate before he is released. The students reportedly said, they will sign the bond only if Dr Arti Lal Chandani, the IMA Kanpur Chief and Head of Department of Medicine, GSV Medical College, tells them to do so.
Meanwhile, the talks between the Chief Minister and the doctors yesterday, could not end the stalemate.
Quoting the IMA President, Kanpur, Dr Arti Lalchandani, our Lucknow Correspondent reports that the strike will go on as the issue has not been resolved. Dr Aditya Patel, President of KGMU Resident Doctors’ Association said, there was no clarity in the CM’s assurance on their demands of initiating action against Kanpur SSP, Yashasvi Yadav and SP MLA, Irfan Solanki, and also about withdrawal of cases against the 24 students.
Services in the medical colleges remained severely paralysed for the fifth day all over the state. Now, even the private hospitals have stopped admitting the fresh cases as they are flooded with patients who had to return from government hospitals due to strike.
Trimming its initial gains, the Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange stood 56 points, or 0.3 percent in positive territory, at 21,265 in afternoon trade, a short while ago. Earlier in the morning, the Sensex had climbed 123 points, on continued buying by funds, as global bourses rose on signs of easing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Stock markets in Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea had gained between 0.2 percent and 1.2 percent, today. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average had surged 1.4 per cent in yesterday's trade.
The rupee edged up by one paisa to 61 rupees 84 paise against the US dollar in the late morning trade on mild selling of dollars by banks and exporters amid firm local equity market. The rupee resumed lower at 61 rupees 90 paise per dollar as against the last closing level of 61 rupees 85 paise at the Interbank Foreign Exchange market. The domestic currency strengthened by four paise to 61 rupees 81 paise in early trade today.
Afghanistan were 42 for 1 in 9 overs against India in their final league match of the Asia Cup cricket tournament, at Mirpur in Bangladesh today, when the reports last came in. Earlier, India won the toss and elected to field. India have fielded an unchanged squad that played against Pakistan, while Afghanistan have made one change in their team, bringing in Rahmat Shah in place of Hamza Kotak.
Earlier, Pakistan pulled off a thrilling three-wicket victory over hosts Bangladesh with the help of Shahid Afridi's blistering 59 off 25 balls, to storm into the finals of the Asia Cup cricket tournament at Mirpur last night.