Election Commission to introduce ‘None of the Above’ option

The polls to the Assemblies in the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Mizoram will be held between November 11 and December 4, the Election Commission announced on Friday. Counting of votes will be taken up on December 8.

The model code of conduct has already come into effect. Over 11.60 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

The polls to the 90-member House in naxal-prone Chhattisgarh will be held in two phases on November 11 and 19. Madhya Pradesh (total membership 230) will go to the polls on November 25, Rajasthan (200) on December 1, and Delhi (70) and Mizoram (40) on December 4.

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath told journalists here that as per the Supreme Court direction, a ‘None of the Above’ button (the option of rejecting all candidates) would be provided in electronic voting machines in the polls.

Awareness observers

Also, for the first time, the EC would introduce awareness observers for efficient and effective management of the electoral process.

The first notification for the polls would be out on October 18 (for phase-I in Chhattisgarh).

During phase-I there, 18 constituencies in naxal-prone Bastar and neighbouring districts will go to the polls. The EC announced that by-elections in the Assembly constituencies of Surat (Gujarat) and Yercaud (Tamil Nadu) would be held on December 4.

Stakes high for BJP

Muralidhar Reddy reports:

The BJP has huge stakes in four of the five States where Assembly elections.

The party sees it not only as a ‘mini-general election’ but hopes to make the most of the outcome. Of the five States, it fancies its chances in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

BJP leaders concede that it would be a tough fight in Delhi due to intense factionalism within the State unit coupled with the charisma of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who would be seeking a third term.

A senior BJP leader said that entry of the Aam Aadmi Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal, has made it tougher for the party as the AAP may cut into its vote by garnering anti-incumbency votes.

The elections would in a way test the popularity of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, particularly in Delhi, where the party is faced with several odds.