NEW DELHI: The election commission on Wednesday sounded the poll bugle for the assembly elections to be held in five states including Utter Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur in which over 16 crore voters will exercise their democratic rights.
With a view to ensure peaceful polls and to provide proper security arrangement in the crucial poll battle in Utter Pradesh, the EC has decided to hold elections in seven phases starting from February 11 and concluding on March 8. Officials said that the schedule for the state polls was prepared after consulting all stakeholders. It was discussed that Goa and Punjab elections will be held on the same day on February 4. Manipur will go to the polls in Phase I on March 4 and Phase II on March 8. The results of the elections for all states will be announced on March 11.
Chief Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi said it will closely monitor the day-to-day situation. "Owing to cash crunch, possibilities are that some other kind of favours, gifts may be distributed. We will keep an eye on these things," he said.
The CEC said that expenses above Rs 20000 have to be out of bank accounts to be set up and it has to be through cheques. There will be elaborate expenditure monitoring device, he added. The limit for expenses for candidates is Rs 28 lakh for UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Rs 20 lakh for Manipur and Goa,” Zaidi said.
On the ongoing tussle between both the factions in Samajwadi party in UP, the CEC said that the poll panel has received documents from both the sides. The commission will consider the earlier precedence to decide on this issue.
On the new date of the general budget scheduled for February 1, the CEC said that the poll panel is examining whether budget can be presented now as model code of conduct is in force. "The Commission has received representation sent by some political parties. This representation is with regards to presentation of the budget. The Commission is examining this representation and in due course of time will take a call on this," he said.
Zaidi said that the poll panel will completely abide by the Supreme Court verdict in the 'Hindutva' case, banning seeking of votes in the name of religion, caste and creed.
Electoral roll of Goa will be published on January 5, Manipur on January 12, Punjab January 5, Uttarakhand on January 10 and Uttar Pradesh on January 12, Zaidi said adding that the EC has imposed Model Code of Conduct in the states due for elections with immediate effect.
The EC has also for the first time made it mandatory for every candidate contesting these polls to file another affidavit in the form of a "No demand certificate" declaring any pending electricity, water, telephone bills and rent for government accommodation in their possession in last ten years. The CEC said candidates will also make a declaration while filing their nominations on their being a citizen of India and having not held citizenship of any other country.
Election Commission will distribute photo voters slip to all voters. " A (multi-coloured) voter guide will be distributed to all families. This will have details of polling stations, date and time of polling, ID documents that can be used, etc. At least 1.85 Lakh polling stations will be covered under these polls. This has increased by 15 percent. For secrecy, height of the voting compartment has been raised to 30 inches," Zaidi said.
Meanwhile, amidst the protest of opposition parties on the move to present Union Budget on February 1, BJP rubbished their claims saying it is a constitutional exercise that should not be linked to election cycle. A senior party leader also did not rule out announcement of sops for different segments of society in the budget, saying Union budgets have been presented in the past during elections and it cannot be any different this year. "Union Budget's timing and announcements cannot be subject to schedule of various elections. It has never been like this," he said.