New Delhi: The Election Commission of India is scheduled to hold the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in five or six phases starting mid-April and continuing into early May.
Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim will be electing their new Assemblies alongside. An official announcement to this effect is to be made in late February or early March.
The dates are under consideration for a meeting with the Union home secretary to finalise deployment of paramilitary forces before the announcement of the poll schedule.
The term of the current Lok Sabha expires on June 1 and the new House has to be constituted by May 31. Nearly 80 crore people are expected to exercise their franchise.
The electoral rolls are likely to be released by the end of this month. A top poll panel source said, “The announcement of the poll schedule would be done in the last days of February or at best the first two-three days of March.”
He added, “We already have a list of electoral rolls. We need to update it. We expect that the lists will be ready before January-end.”
The last Lok Sabha polls were held in five phases from April 16 to May 13 and the counting of votes was done on May 16, 2009. The announcement for the last general election was made March 2, 2009. There were then 714 million voters against 671 million voters in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. A total of 1.1 crore poll personnel, including security forces, are to be deployed for the elections.
Among those, 5.5 million civilian staff would be put in place to ensure free and fair elections. An estimated eight lakh polling stations are to be set up for polling across the country. In addition, plans are afoot to deploy around 12 lakh EVMs. The poll panel is likely to secure another 2.5 lakh EVMs in mid-February.
In the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim, the poll panel is all set to place two EVMs alongside so that voters can vote in both the elections.
The term of the 294-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly is till June 2, 2014; that of the 147-member Orissa House till June 7, 2014; and that of the 32-member Sikkim Assembly till May 21, 2014. The poll panel has to grant around two weeks for government formation before the term of the Lok Sabha or a state Assembly expires.
"There will be a final meeting of the commission with the Union home secretary for securing the availability of security forces for poll duty," sources said. Currently, chief electoral officers of various states are in touch with the state DGPs over availability of state police forces for the polls. The list of Central government employees to be deployed as micro-observers in sensitive polling stations is also being finalised.
Poll officials feel a multi-phased general election is best suited for a country of India’s size and electorate. Also, states like Jammu and Kashmir and Chhattisgarh have to be accorded special treatment on account of insurgency-related problems.
The Election Commission has not received any request from any state for early polls though there is speculation that Haryana may opt for an early election....