With over 80 crore voters eligible to exercise their franchise to elect 543 members of Parliament, India’s general elections slated for April-May this year will be a massive democratic exercise, and the Election Commission has begun the preparatory work for the same.
According to EC sources, the polls will most likely be spread in five or six phases between mid-April to mid-May for the Lok Sabha, while simultaneous polls would be held for Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim Assemblies. In 2009, the Lok Sabha elections were held in five phases from April 16 to May 13. The last time the Lok Sabha polls were held in a single phase was in 1971.
The announcement of the polls’ schedule is likely to be made by February-end or beginning of March, when the code of conduct would come into force. The revision of electoral rolls for the parliamentary polls is underway to include all new voters who attained the age of 18 before January 1, 2014.
Ahead of the poll schedule being made public by the EC, the 15th Lok Sabha would meet for the last time when the vote on account, instead of a formal general budget for 2014-15, is likely to be passed. That would allow the new government after the Lok Sabha polls to formally pass a full-fledged budget once it takes office.
The term of the 15th Lok Sabha would expire on June 1 and hence polls need to be completed much before May 31 by when a new lower house of Parliament would be constituted and a new government would be in place.
“We already have a list of electoral rolls. We need to update it. We expect that the lists will be ready by end of January,” an EC source said. During the 2009 polls, there were 71.4 crore voters against 67.1 crore voters in 2004 Lok Sabha polls.