The world’s biggest democratic exercise will be set into motion on Wednesday with the Election Commission releasing the dates for almost two-month-long Lok Sabha poll process expected to begin in second week of April.
The EC’ decision to call polls seems to have taken the government by surprise which had planned a cabinet meeting on Thursday to push some last-minute sops.
The government will be racing against time to notify dates for creation of Telangana, India’s 29th state.
Lokpal, another of its “achievements” that the UPA would have liked to go to voters with, too, looks unlikely, as the government won’t have enough time to name a replacement for KT Thomas, the former Supreme Court judge who on Monday quit as the head of the search committee for the anti-corruption watchdog.
As soon as the poll dates are announced, the model code of conduct will kick in, preventing the government from making any decisions that can be seen as influencing voters. It also prohibits political parties from making unsubstantiated allegations against opponents.
The decision to announce the elections in which 814 million voters will be eligible to exercise their franchise was taken after a series of meeting by Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath on Tuesday and firming up of the security plan.
The term of the current Lok Sabha expires June 1. A new House has to be constituted by May 31.
This summer’s elections will see the ruling UPA pitted against the NDA led by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Read: CEC Sampath seeks help of DD and AIR for better conduct of elections
But the party that will be watched with great deal of interest is the barely two-year-old Aam Aadmi Party, which made a stunning poll debut in Delhi only to quit after 49 days in power. Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has a 40-day whirlwind election tour of the country planned.
The Left-backed Third Front, too, is trying to project itself as an alternative to the Congress as well as the BJP.