Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and will be held over seven phases followed by counting of votes on May 23 , the Election Commission has announced.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the model code of conduct would come into immediate effect from March 10 and 10 lakh polling stations would be set up this time as against about 9 lakh in 2014.
Announcing the schedule for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission said the ‘voter verifiable paper audit trail’ (VVPAT) will be used in all polling stations this time.
The first phase will be held on April 11, second on April 18, third on April 23 and fourth on April 29, fifth on May 6, sixth on May 12 and seventh phase on May 19. Counting of votes for all seven phases would be done on May 23, Mr. Arora said.
Among other things, the model code of conduct bars the government from announcing any policy move that may impact voters’ decision.
Mr. Arora said all political advertisements on social media will need pre-certification.
Here are the latest updates:
Abdullah slams Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “surrendered” before Pakistan, militants and separatists, National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah has said, soon after the Election Commission’s no to simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Bypoll in 18 seats, not 21, says T.N. CEO
Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo says bypolls will be held only for 18 Assembly constituencies in the State. Polls will not be held for Ottapidaram, Aravakurichi and Tiruparankundram constituencies, says Mr. Sahoo as “election petitions are pending”.
It's the turn of the people now, says Congress
“The bugle is blown and now it is the turn of the public. There is adequate preparation for fighting the lies. We will defeat the ‘liars’ in this government, we are prepared and victory will be ours,” the Congress has tweeted in Hindi through its official handle.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already begun his campaign on Twitter even as the ECI presser is still under way.
“Best wishes to the Election Commission, all those officials and security personnel who will be on the field, across the length and breadth of India assuring smooth elections. India is very proud of the EC for assiduously organising elections for several years.
Mr. Arora is now taking questions.
T.N. bypolls on April 18
He says the Tamil Nadu bypolls are to be held on April 18 along with the Lok Sabha polls, he clarifies.
Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha will be held simultaneously with the respective Lok Sabha cosntituencies.
President's rule to continue in J&K
On J&K, Mr. Arora says security situation is being monitored. Regarding holding elections ECI has sought info from the State administration. EC has assessed the ground situation and preparedness for the polls, also considering recent developments, sought comments from MHA and also visited the State, had meeting with all political parties and administration officials, based on the findings and availability of forces, EC has decided to announce only the parliamentary elections in the State, decision on holding Assembly elections to be taken soon , he says. So, Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir not to be held along with Lok Sabha polls.
Anantnag polls in 3 phases
Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in J&K would vote in three phases due to security reasons, the ECI says.
22 States will be voting single phase. Karnataka, Assam, Manipur, Rajasthan, Tripura in two phases. Assam and Chhattisgarh in three phases to ensure movement of central forces.
It's now time for the polls schedule. Seven-phase elections instead of nine-phase one like last elections.
Phase 1: Voting on April 11
Phase 2: Voting on April 18
Phase 3: Voting on April 23
Phase 4: Voting on April 29
Phase 5: Voting on May 6
Phase 6: Voting on May 12
Phase 7: Voting on May 19
Date of counting: May 23
No. of seats per phase:
Phase 1, April 11, 91 seats, 20 States — A.P. (all 25), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Assam (5), Bihar (4), Chhattisgarh (1) J&K (2), Maharashtra (7), Manipur (1), Meghalaya (2), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Odisha (4), Sikkim (1), Telangana (17), Tripura (1), U.P. (8), Uttarkhand (5), W.B. (2), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1), Lakshadweep (1)
Phase 2, April 18, 97 seats , 13 States — Assam (5), Bihar (5), Chhattisgarh (3), J&K (2), Karnataka (14) Maharashtra (10), Manipur (1), Odisha (5), T.N. (all 39), Tripura (1), U.P. (8), West Bengal (3), Puducherry (1)
Phase 3, April 23, 115 seats , 14 States — Assam (4), Bihar (5), Chhattisgarh (7), Gujarat (all 26), Goa (all 2), J&K (1), Karnataka (14), Kerala (all 20), Maharashtra (14), Odisha (6), U.P. (10), West Bengal (5), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1), Daman and Diu (1)
Phase 4:, April 29, 71 seats, 9 States — Bihar (5), J&K (1), Jharkhand (3), M.P. (6), Maharashtra (17), Odisha (6), Rajasthan (13), U.P. (13), West Bengal (8)
Phase 5, May 6, 51 seats , 7 States — Bihar (5), Jharkhand (4), J&K (2), M.P. (7), Rajasthan (12), U.P. (14), West Bengal (7)
Phase 6, May 12, 59 seats, 7 States — Bihar (8), Haryana (10), Jharkhand (4), M.P. (8), U.P. (14), West Bengal (8), NCR (all 7)
Phase 7, May 19, 59 seats , 8 States — Bihar (8), Jharkhand (3), M.P. (8), Punjab (all 13), West Bengal (9), Chandigarh (1), U.P. (13), Himachal Pradesh (all 4)
The Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and the two Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa ansd Sushil Chandra have arrived at the Plenary Hall to announce the 17 Lok Sabha poll dates.
The CEC is now making his introductory remarks. Recalls the first election and how it survived the cynicism of the world democracies then. He now apprises about the series of the meeting the ECI held in States about poll-preparedness.
Nearly 900 million voters are eligible to vote in the polls. That is more than 84 million more than last polls. About 10 lakh polling station this time compared to 9 lakh in 2014 polls
Mr. Arora reiterates the announcement that the photo voter slip is no longer a standalone poll document .
And the last button in the EVMs is the NOTA option. Photos of candidates will be displayed in EVMs for the first time.
VVPATs to be used with EVMs at all stations. Stringent steps for transport and security of EVMs and VVPATs he says.
Non-filing of revised Form 26 will result in rejection of candidature . The form seeks info on income of candidates, spouse, dependents, HuF and also assets located overseas and PAN, he says.
Candidates with criminal antecedents need to announce their status thrice before the poll date in local newspapers.
On Central observers , the ECI has decided to send sufficient number of senior officials to spending-sensitive States, he says.
An app has already been introduced for extending facilities to persons with disabilities, Mr. Arora says.
Campaign and issues like paid news now covers social media too. Candidates now need to report their campaign and spending on social media.
Google and Facebook have agreed to monitoring political ads and content on their platforms. “Social media platforms to ensure that political advertisements published through them are pre-certified by the Commission, they have appointed nodal grievance officials for dealing with complaints of hate messages.”
In 2014, the Lok Sabha poll announcement was made on March 5. The elections for the 16th Lok Sabha, along with the Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim, were held on nine different dates, compared with the five-phase exercise in the 2009 elections.
Have a look at Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi ’s tweet:
Dates for Odisha, Sikkim, A.P., Arunachal Assembly polls
There is a strong possibility that the EC may go by the precedent and hold Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh along with the Lok Sabha polls. Since the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has been dissolved, the ECI is bound to hold fresh polls there as well within a six-month period, which will end in May.
ECI presser at Plenary Hall, Vigyan Bhawan
The poll panel will be holding a press conference at 5 p.m. at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.
The term of the present Lok Sabha ends on June 3.