UP, 4 other states to go to polls simultaneously in Feb-March: Sources | india-news | Hindustan Times
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UP, 4 other states to go to polls simultaneously in Feb-March: Sources

Uttar Pradesh and four other states will go to polls simultaneously, most likely in February-March next year, commencing shortly after the presentation of the Union Budget on February, sources in the Election Commission said on Sunday.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2016 01:51 IST
PTI
A voting official marks the finger of a voter inside a polling booth, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh.
A voting official marks the finger of a voter inside a polling booth, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh.(Reuters File Photo)

Uttar Pradesh and four other states will go to polls simultaneously, most likely in February-March next year, commencing shortly after the presentation of the Union Budget on February, sources in the Election Commission said on Sunday.

While it will be a single-day polling in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, Uttar Pradesh is likely to have as many as seven phases.

The BJP, which swept the Lok Sabha elections more than two years ago, winning 70 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, is seeking to make a comeback by wresting power after 15 years from the ruling Samawadi Party. The BSP is expected to give a stiff challenge to both of them.

In Punjab, after two successive terms, the ruling SAD-BJP combine is facing a tough battle from the Congress on the one hand and a fledgeling AAP on the other. Uttarakhand, where the ruling Congress staged a sensational comeback this year following a legal battle, is fighting anti-incumbency and facing challenge from the BJP.

Goa, where the ruling BJP is seeking a fresh term, is pitted against the Congress and the AAP. In Manipur, the Congress is seeking to retain power.

As a matter of abundant precaution, the government approached the Commission for clearing its proposal to present the Union Budget in Lok Sabha on February 1 and avoid criticism for violating the model code of conduct that will come into force the day elections are announced.

Sources said the Commission had no objection to the budget exercise being carried out because it would cover the entire country and would not be specific to just poll-bound states.

It has also been conveyed to the government that caution should be exercised so that overtly populist measures are not included in the budget aimed at voters in these states.

The Commission is working on a schedule for the polls, which should be completed by the middle of March so that new assemblies in these states could be constituted well before the expiry of the ongoing tenures.

It is also working out the requirements regarding security forces with the Centre and the states concerned for ensuring the polls are free and fair.

Nearly one lakh state police and central armed police force personnel may be deployed to ensure that the electoral exercise is smooth and free from violence and malpractices like booth capturing.

Chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi recently said, “We are trying to assess the requirement of security forces, climate and exam schedule — all these inputs are being taken into consideration. Only then we will be able to say whether they will be staggered or multi-phase.”

While the term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly ends on May 27, 2017, those of Goa, Manipur and Punjab end on March 18. The Uttarakhand Assembly’s term ends on March 27.