NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha polls this year might be held in nine or 10 phases as the Election Commission (EC) is likely to hold the Assembly polls of six or seven states along with the big political battle of 2019.
The terms of four Assemblies — Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh — will end in May and June, 2019. Moreover, the Centre is prepared to hold the Jammu & Kashmir polls as well. Apart from these states, the elections in Maharashtra and Haryana may also be clubbed together.
The terms of the Maharashtra and Haryana Assemblies end in the first week of November, and holding the polls together would save resources as there wouldn’t be any more elections this year, an EC official said.
The poll panel might announce the election schedule around the last week of February, and polling may start from April 8 or the next convenient date, sources said, adding, “The template would be the schedule of the 2014 polls, when voting began on April 7, and over nine phases, going on till May 12”.
Officials claimed clubbing of the Haryana and Maharashtra polls would depend on the political situation. “States and the ruling parties have to be allowed to take a call. Both states are ruled by the BJP. If the party thinks it could be beneficial, the two governments can take a call on seeking dissolution of the Assemblies six months before the scheduled end of term.”
Meanwhile, an EC official said the poll panel has sufficient resources to hold the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls of the seven states together. Deployment of security forces would also not be a big issue if elections are held together, said a government official.
While the Sikkim Assembly term ends on May 27, 2019, the terms of the Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh Assemblies end on June 18, June 11 and June 1 respectively. The terms of the Maharashtra and Haryana Assemblies end on November 9 and November 2 respectively. A call on polls for the J&K Assembly is yet to be taken.
According to the EC, 22.3 lakh ballot units, 16.3 lakh control units and nearly 17.3 lakh VVPATs or paper-trail machines will be used for the 2019 LS polls. The number of machines include the buffer stock for training as well as replacements. These would be deployed at the nearly 10.6 lakh polling stations across India in the next parliamentary elections.
IN ONE GO?
- The 2019 Lok Sabha polls could follow the 2014 scheduling template. Polling could kick off on April 7-8 and over nine phases ending mid-May
- With terms of four Assemblies ending in May-June, it’s almost decided that simultaneous polls for them will be taken up with the LS polls
- Polling for Haryana and Maharashtra Assemblies, the terms of which end in November, could be advanced, should the govts agree on their dissolution earlier
- 22.3 lakh ballot units, 16.3 lakh control units and 17.3 lakh VVPATs or paper trail machines needed in 2019 LS polls across 10.6 lakh polling stations