Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra with Election Commissioner Rajeev Kumar (L) announces the schedule for General Elections to Legislative Assemblies of Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, at a press conference in New Delhi. (PTI/Kamal Kishore)
New Delhi: The Assembly elections for five states — Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur — will be held from February 10 till March 7 in seven phases and the result will be announced on March 10.
Announcing the poll schedule on Saturday, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra said that polls in only UP will take place in seven phases (February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 March 3 and 7) while it will be in two phases in Manipur (February 27 and March 3) and all other three states — Goa, Uttarakhand and Punjab – will vote on a single day on February 14.
There are 690 Assembly constituencies across five states and there are a total 18.34 crore voters that will exercise their voting rights. UP has 403 Assembly seats, Uttarakhand 70, Punjab 117, Goa 40 and Manipur has 60.
Keeping in mind the high number of Covid-19 cases across the states, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has banned all physical forms of rallies, gatherings, roadshows – including bike, cycle, car rally, etc, till January 15. The ECI will decide on this further after assessing the Covid-19 situation next weekend. With the announcement on Saturday, the Model Code of Conduct is now in place in these five states.
"Immediate action to be taken for the enforcement of Model Code of Conduct after announcement of General Elections to State Legislative Assemblies of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, 2022," the ECI said in a special message sent to the chief secretaries of the poll-bound states. As per order defacement of public or private property, the use of official vehicles or premises or machinery, advertisement at the cost of public exchequer, photograph of political functionaries on official site, etc, is banned till polling ends.
For the first time, all political parties giving tickets to candidates facing criminal cases have to explain to the voters why they chose such a candidate and put the entire information about the candidates on their websites. "The winnability cannot be a criterion that the parties can mention as the reason to give a ticket to a particular candidate," said Mr Chandra. He encouraged voters to take photographs of any misconduct by any official, candidate or party during elections and share with the ECI through an e-vigil app for action.
The CEC said that the decision to hold elections was taken after much deliberation and consultations with the health experts and Union health ministry. Mr Chandra said that since the Covid-19 situation is dynamic, the decisions would be taken from time to time to ensure the polls do not add to the rise in cases.
"There is no need to panic. Sufficient measures have been taken in this regard and enough safety measures would be in place at polling booths and all polling staff would be fully vaccinated," said Mr Chandra. He added after their letter to chief secretaries of these five states, a large chunk of voters have been immunised completely or given at least first shot.