New Delhi: Election dates and related schedules for electing the respective state legislatures in Uttar Pradesh and four other states including Punjab, were announced on Saturday (January 8).
In Uttar Pradesh, the polling will be held in seven phases beginning on February 10, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra announced at a media conference. Uttar Pradesh will go to the polls in 7 phases from February 10 to March 7.
The two northern states, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa, will go to the polls on February 14. In the northeast, Manipur will go for voting on February 27 and March 3.
The counting of votes for all the five states will be on March 10, he said.
The announcement by CEC, especially about Punjab, brings an end to speculation being made in certain quarters that the security breach to PM's convoy on January 5 could lead to postponement of polls in the border state.
There was a major rider in the announcement by the CEC that no roadshows, cycle or bike rallies and processions shall be allowed till January 15. The CEC said sufficient central paramilitary forces would be deployed in all poll-bound states to handle law and order situations and threat perceptions. This has been done given the surging COVID-19 and Omicron numbers.
"… the situation to be reviewed and fresh instructions to be issued later," he said.
Senior citizens above 80 years of age, persons with disabilities and COVID-19 patients can vote by postal ballot, Mr Chandra said.
The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes into effect immediately from the announcement of the schedules.
"Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of the MCC guidelines. Any violation of these guidelines will be strictly dealt with," he said.
He further said it is mandatory for political parties to upload detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases selected as poll candidates on their website. They will also have to give a reason to select the candidate.
Mr Chandra said all election officials and employees would be considered as frontline workers, and all eligible officers would be vaccinated with a 'precautionary dose'.