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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014
DELHI | MP | RAJASTHAN | MIZORAM | CHHATTISGARH
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Poll dates out for 5 states, NOTA option to be used

HT COrrespondents, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 04, 2013
First Published: 16:19 IST(4/10/2013) | Last Updated: 17:50 IST(5/10/2013)

The Election Commission (EC) of India on Friday announced the dates for assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, touted as semi-final between Congress and the BJP and a litmus test for the popularity of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are ruled by the BJP for the past 10 years and Delhi by the Congress for the past 15 years. Congress won Rajasthan from BJP five years back.

Even before the election dates were announced a fierce campaign is already underway in the four states in mainland India. The BJP is looking to retain Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and wrest Rajasthan from Congress, while the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party has turned the fight for the 70 seats in the national capital triangular. 

The election to these states would be spread over a period of about two-and-a-half months, chief election commissioner VS Sampath told a press conference.
Except Chhattisgarh, all states will have polling on a single day. The EC has decided to hold polls in Maoist-affected districts of Chhattisgarh in two phases after consulting the home ministry.

“There will be adequate security available to ensure fair and peaceful elections,” a commission official said. Over 100 companies of para-military force would be deployed in sensitive areas of these five poll bound states.

The commission will also test its verifiable paper trail system --- in which voter can see to whom he or she had cast the vote --- in select constituencies in Mizoram and other states.

Replying to a question on disqualification of convicted MPs, Sampath said the EC will announce vacancies only after they are notified by Rajya Sabha chairman and Lok Sabha speaker.
 

The Poll Schedule

The first phase of polls in Chhattisgarh will be held on November 11 for which the notification will be issued on October 18. The last date of filing nominations will be October 25 and the last date of withdrawal will be October 28.

Scrutiny of nominations will take place on October 26.
 
The second phase of elections will take place on November 19 for which the notification will be issued on October 25. While nominations can be filed till November 1, scrutiny will be held on November 2. The last date of withdrawal is November 4.
 
For the November 25 poll in Madhya Pradesh, the notification will be issued on November 1. The last date of filing nominations is November 8. While scrutiny will take place on November 9, nominations can be withdrawn till November 11.
 
In Rajasthan, where the elections will be held on December 1, the notification will be issued on November 5. While November 12 is the last date of filing nominations, they can be withdrawn till November 16. In between, the scrutiny of the nominations will be carried out on November 13.
 
In Delhi and Mizoram, the elections will be held on December 4. The notification for assembly polls in both the states will be issued on November 9. The nominations can be filed till November 16 and scrutiny will take place on November 18. The last date of withdrawing from the electoral race is November 20.

DELHI

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The lowdown

In 2013, debutante Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will queer the pitch in Delhi assembly elections, giving another angle to what has largely been a contest between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) till now.

The contenders

After ruling the state for three consecutive terms, chief minister Sheila Dikshit is in the fray for a record fourth time while the faction-ridden BJP is yet to announce its CM candidate. Its state party chief Vijay Goel is spearheading the election campaign.

Taking both of them head-on is AAP's Arvind Kejriwal who has been using campaign tools such as meeting people on the Metro and using auto-rickshaws to slam the two national parties.

The background

Poor in terms of representation of women - with only four women MLAs out of the total 70 in 2008 - it is quite rich when we consider the assets declared by its legislators.

Over 66% of Delhi's MLAs chosen in 2008, numbering 46, were crorepatis and an independent MLA from Najafgarh Bharat Singh topped their ranks at Rs. 14.45 crore. The richest candidate, however, lost the elections - BSP's Ved Prakash who had assets worth Rs. 217 crore. The 'poorest' MLA was BJP's Sunil Kumar who had assets worth Rs. 5.15 lakh.

MADHYA PRADESH

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The lowdown

While the state Congress put its act together after Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia was appointed as the campaign chief, the BJP's bid to return for the second term was bolstered by party's announcement of Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.

The contenders

The only non-Congress CM to rule MP for five years in continuation, Shivraj Singh Chouhan is in the fray for a third term and continues to wield enormous influence in the organisation. Congress' Digvijaya Singh who has been the CM of the state twice is a key player. Scindia, the scion of Gwalior royal family is the poll in-charge and has managed to breach factionalism in the party.

The background

A record 99.7% people in the state have voter identity cards. The state's total population is 72.6 million and number of voters is 46.4 million. About 2.25 million will be casting their vote for the first time.

The 2008 assembly elections in the state saw narrow wins and big victories -- BJP's Neena Verma won by one vote from Dhar assembly constituency while chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan won by 41525 votes from Budhni assembly constituency.

CHHATTISGARH

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The lowdown

After many state Congress leaders were killed during an audacious Maoist ambush at Darbha on May 25 this year, the party is severely depleted but is riding a sympathy wave. The state's BJP chief minister Raman Singh believes he will repeat his 2008 performance riding on the success of his welfare schemes. The state's anti-Maoist policy and discontent among the tribals are the major issues here.

The contenders

While Raman Singh is in the fray for a third term, the major players in the Congress are MP from Korba Charan Das Mahant, powerful yet controversial Ajit Jogi and former MP CM Motilal Vora.

The background

Only 71% of the 25.5 million people in the state are literate. Out of the 90 MLAs chosen in 2008, 11 MLAs had criminal cases against them. In 2008, Ajit Jogi defeated his closest rival by 42,092 votes while Raman Singh's victory margin was 32,389 votes.


RAJASTHAN

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The lowdown

Between them, the Congress and BJP have held power in Rajasthan for most part of the last six decades. This assembly election is likely to be a cliffhanger. While the BJP is counting on the anti-incumbency factor, the Congress seems confident that the UPA and the state government's welfare schemes will bring in votes.

The contenders

These elections will largely be fought between Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and BJP state president Vasundhra Raje Scindia. Congress' CP Joshi and Sachin Pilot are also key players.

The background

Ranveer Pahalwan was the richest MLA from the state in 2008 with declared assets amounting to Rs. 36.77 crore while the 'poorest' was Anupghar constituency's Pawan Kumar Duggal with assets worth Rs. 6,000.

MIZORAM

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The lowdown

The Congress in Mizoram has a nationalistic approach but focuses more on local issues with the geographically-disadvantaged state banking heavily on farm economy. These elections will be a mandate on a pro-poor land policy implemented by the party.

The Mizo National Front claims to have a support base of former rebels but the aura around legendary revolutionary Laldenga -- who became chief minister after the Mizo National Front (MNF) signed a truce in 1986 -- is wearing off.

The Mizoram People's Conference offers a middle path between Congress and MNF but its capability to lead is yet to be tested.

The contenders

The iconic Congress leader Lal Thanhawla joined the Congress in 1967 and went on to be the chief minister in 1984 after leading the Congress to a sweeping victory. He stepped aside to let Laldenga become the CM in 1986. He won his Serchhip seat in 2003 and retained it in 2008.

Zoramthanga has served as the MNF chief ever since the death of Laldenga. He lost his Champhai seat in 2008 but hope to regain power in 2013. Ex Congressman Lalduhoma quit the party and formed Mizo National Union that merged with Mizoram People's Conference. He then joined MNF before forming ZNP prior to the 2003 assembly polls.

The background

Mizoram has more female voters, 3,49,506, than male, 3,36,799. It has 13 crorepati MLAs and three legislators with criminal cases against them. The total population of the state is 1.09 million.

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