Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram would be held between November 7 and 30. The counting of votes would take place on December 3 for all the five States, the Election Commission announced on Monday, setting the ball rolling for the crucial polls which are being considered to be the semi-finals to the 2024 general elections.
Chhattisgarh is the only State where the polls would be held in two phases — November 7 and 17. While 20 out of the 90 Assembly constituencies will vote in the first phase, the rest would go to polls on November 17.
Mizoram with 40 Assembly seats would vote on November 7 along with the first phase in Chhattisgarh.
Voting for the 230 Assembly constituencies of Madhya Pradesh would take place on November 17 and that in Rajasthan, which has 200 seats, would be held on November 23.
Also read: Assembly Elections 2023 live updates
Telangana, which has 119 Assembly seats, would vote on November 30.
Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have Congress governments, Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the BJP, Telangana by the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and Mizoram by the Mizo National Front (MNF).
While the BJP and the Congress are in bipolar contests in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, in Telangana, it is a triangular fight between the ruling BRS, the Congress and the BJP.
BJP President J.P. Nadda said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that the BJP would win a majority and form governments in all States going to polls, while Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said his party would go to the people with public welfare, social justice and progressive development as its guarantees.
Announcing the poll dates here, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar told the media: “There are a total of 16.14 crore voters in the five States going to polls, which is approximately 1/6th of the total voters in country”.
He said these elections were significant not only for the States, but also for the nation, “after this, we will meet for the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections,” Mr. Kumar added.
The CEC said there would be 1.77 lakh polling stations in the five States, of which 1.01 lakh would have facilities for webcasting and more than 8,000 polling stations would be managed by women.
A special focus had been given for making the electoral rolls inclusive and ensuring that all voters come to vote, he said.
For the first time a new Election Seizure Management System had been introduced for better oversight for ensuring inducement-free elections. A total of 940 check-posts had been put in place for a strict vigil along the inter-State borders and to dry up the inflow of illicit liquor, cash, freebies and drugs for this.
Asked about the freebies announced by various political parties ahead of the Assembly polls, Mr. Kumar branded them as ‘tadka’ (tempering) of populism and said it was difficult for those who win elections to either implement these sops or stop this practice.
“Some announcement in one State and some other announcement in others. I don’t know why it is not remembered for five years and all the announcements are made in the last one month or 15 days. Anyway, that is the domain of the State governments,” he said.
The CEC added that the matter was at present sub-judice and the EC would act as soon as clarity and decision were available on this.
It might be recalled that the EC had last year proposed amending the model code to ask political parties to provide authentic information on the financial viability of their poll promises. The move had come amid a political war of words on poll freebies with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi dubbing the populist announcements as “revdi culture”.
On a question on when the polls would be held in Jammu and Kashmir, the CEC said they would be held at the “right time” keeping in mind the security situation there.