EC announces assembly poll dates in five states, counting to be held on May 2
The Election Commission of India on Friday announced the schedule for the assembly elections that will be held in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. The terms of these states’ assemblies will come to an end in May and June. However, President’s Rule has been imposed in Puducherry after the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government failed to win the trust vote earlier this week.
In Assam, voting will take place in three phases on March 27, April 1 and April 6; in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, voting will take place in a single phase on April 6; while West Bengal will go to polls in eight phases on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29, respectively.
Counting of votes in all states will take place on May 2.
Outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that all extant guidelines for Covid-19 would be observed during the elections.
All extant Covid-19 guidelines will be followed in the upcoming elections, including social distancing, provisions of masks, sanitiser and gloves for the electors and the extension of the polling time by one hour. The number of electors per booth will also be limited to 1,000. Covid-19 patients will continue to be allowed to cast their vote by postal ballot or vote in the last hour of the election.
“Last year, the entire world, when confronted with the Covid 19 pandemic, was figuring out how to balance the rights of citizens while protecting their health and safety in the thick of this pandemic,” Arora said at the press briefing. “The Commission used the Rajya Sabha elections and Bihar elections last year as a litmus test to see how to conduct large-scale polls. Bihar was a watershed moment, there were more voters than the last assembly election and Lok Sabha election during the pandemic.”
The Commission, comprising CEC Arora, ECs Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar, has held extensive meetings across all five regions with stakeholders and poll officials.
The Commission has also asked the government to consider poll officials as frontline health workers so that they can be vaccinated on priority.
HT, last week, reported that nearly 69,000 extra polling stations have been set up and over 300,000 more booth workers are being recruited as a part of the preparations by the Election Commission to conduct the upcoming five assembly elections.