Assembly polls in four States, Puducherry begin on March 27; counting of votes on May 2

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora addresses a press conference, in New Delhi on February 26, 2021.  

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday announced elections to the Assemblies of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and West Bengal, with voting from March 27 till April 29 and counting on May 2.

At a press conference, which he said would be his last before his term ends in April, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said polling for Assam’s 126 constituencies would be held in three phases- March 27, April 1 and April 6. Elections in Kerala (140 seats), Tamil Nadu (234) and Puducherry (30) would be held in a single phase- on April 6.

Kerala, TN, Puducherry to go to polls on April 6; 3 phase polling for Assam, 8-phase elections for Bengal

West Bengal would see elections in eight phases, up from seven phases in the last elections, on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. There are 294 constituencies in the State.

Two parliamentary bypolls

The ECI also announced by-elections to two Parliamentary constituencies – Malappuram in Kerala and Kaniyakumari in Tamil Nadu – on April 6. Bypolls to a parliamentary seat in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka each and 18 Assembly seats across the country would also be held in the same time frame. However, the schedules would be announced separately, it said.

Mr. Arora said advance teams of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) had been sent to all the poll-bound States and the Union Territory of Puducherry. 

In addition,the ECI had issued a circular on February 8 for the formation of committees comprising the States’ chief electoral officers, State police nodal officers and State CAPF coordinators for coming up with security plans and monitoring the deployment of forces. 

Two special police observers had been appointed for West Bengal and two special expenditure observers for Tamil Nadu, given the concerns in the two States, he said. 

Terming Tamil Nadu an “expenditure-sensitive State”, he stated that it was the State where two elections had to be rescinded in the recent past, referring to the Vellore and R.K. Nagar elections. 

If need be, more observers could be sent to West Bengal, he said when asked about the law and order situation in the State.

The COVID-19 guidelines issued by the ECI in August 2020, ahead of the Bihar elections, would apply. The guidelines were being reviewed regularly. 

Only two persons and two vehicles would be allowed per candidate while filing nominations and online filing would also be allowed. The ECI would issue revised social media guidelines after reviewing the Centre’s new guidelines.

Largest electoral process 

With over 18 crore electors spread over 824 Assembly constituencies, the five elections are the largest electoral process to be held during the pandemic. 

Mr. Arora said that the ongoing vaccination programme would boost the confidence of electors. The ECI had decided that its officials in the headquarters and the Commission itself would get vaccinated once the front line poll workers received the vaccine.

While answering a question about concerns over the functioning of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), he said “any machine can malfunction”, but categorically added that the “EVMs cannot be tampered”.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 1:32:01 AM |

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