According to the poll schedule announced on Wednesday, the Election Commission would issue the notification on March 15.
The stage is set for poll battle in Kerala with the Election Commission fixing April 10 the date of polling for the current round of Lok Sabha elections from the State.
Parties have barely over a month to put their act together and send home to the electorate their message this poll season. More importantly, there would be only a fortnight-long window for campaigning after the nominations are accepted. This might perhaps be the shortest campaign window in the State’s electoral history.
According to the poll schedule announced on Wednesday, the Election Commission would issue the notification on March 15. Candidates can file nominations until March 22 and the scrutiny of nominations will take place on March 24. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is March 26. The results would be announced on May 16 and the poll process would conclude on May 28. The ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are hard-pressed for time to complete seat-sharing and candidate selection before time runs out. The UDF is bogged down in internal schisms and a host of issues, including the confusion over the Kasturirangan committee recommendations and the ripple effects of a host of scandals. The Congress and the Kerala Congress (M), itself divided, are pulling in different directions and the ruling alliance’s traditional backers appear to be in an angry mood.
For the LDF, the problem is one of picking the right candidates, for it is more or less certain that only the CPI(M) and CPI would be in the fray this time. Like in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the CPI(M) would contest 16 seats, leaving the remaining four to the CPI. The alliance is, however, also waiting for how the clash between the Congress and the KC(M) would play out before finalising its candidates for a few constituencies.
The BJP, though hard at work to make its presence felt in this election aided by the Modi effect, is split down the middle between the faction loyal to State president V. Muraleedharan and his bitter detractors. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the latest entrant into the electoral fray, is all set to contest 12 seats in the State.