The Lok Sabha polls will be held in 9 phases kick-starting on 7th April, 2014, announced the Chief Election Commissioner on Wednesday. Counting will be held on 16th May and is likely to be over in one day.
Election Commission is mandated to finish the election process before May 31, however, elections will be conducted in phased manner in certain critical states, keeping in view certain factors.
LS POLL DATES FOR VARIOUS STATES:
Bihar: 10 April, 17 April, 24 April, 30 April, 7 May, 12 May
Chhattisgarh: 10 April, 17 April, 24 april
Jharkhand: 10 April, 17 April, 24 april
Uttarakhand: 7 May
Madhya Pradesh: 10 April, 17 April, 24 april
Uttar Pradesh: 10 April, 17 April, 24 April, 30 April, 7 May, 12 May
Rajasthan: 17 April, 24 April
"We have held series of preparatory meetings. The parties raised and brought our notice a wide range of issues relating to security, revising the sealing the election expenditure by candidates, necessities to keep festivals in various parts of the country, some highlighted the importance and need of holding elections fair manner in certain crucial states," VS Sampath said.
While some states are facing early monsoons there are other factors such as harvest and crops issues, summers, polling stations located in educational institutions etc.
"Large majority of polling stations are located in educational institutions. Weather plays a very important role, we face issue of early monsoon in certain parts of the country and hot summers in other parts of the country. We have to keep this in mind," he said.
An estimated 81.4 crore voters will be eligible to vote in the coming elections after 9.71 crore new voters have been added to the rolls since the last elections. From the coming elections, candidates in a Parliamentary constituency in bigger states can spend up to Rs 70 lakh on their campaign, up from Rs 40 lakh in 2011. In the 2009 elections, it was Rs 25 lakh.
Another first in the Lok Sabha elections will be the introduction of "None of the Above" (NOTA) option in voting, which came into vogue in the assembly elections a few months ago. The electoral rolls are ready after being updated with January 1 this year as the cut-off date.
A total of 1.1 crore poll personnel, half of them being security forces, will be deployed for the smooth conduct of polls and to ensure that they are free and fair. Poll officials said the database of the civilian staff to be deployed for conducting polls has been prepared and at least 5.5 million civilian staff would be deployed.
The list of central government employees to be deployed for poll duty as micro-observers in sensitive polling stations has also been prepared.
On 9th March Booth level officers will be available across all polling centres to help people enroll for polling.
Talking on ensuring security during polls, Sampath said,"We have taken particular care of people living in vulnerable sections who will be provided additional security."
"We have asked magistrates & police machineries to maintain law and order and to invoke necessary sections in law to provide security to people in vulnerable areas," he added.
He also spoke on use of blackmoney saying, "EC recognises that use of money power is biggest challenge in some states, have already outlined elaborate measures."
For the first time in Parliamentary polls, a system of paper trail for electronic voting will be introduced in some constituencies on a trial basis. There have been demands that a paper trail should be in place so that a fool-proof record is created and controversies avoided in case of a dispute or an election petition filed in courts.
The Commission has also issued guidelines to political parties asking them to explain the rationale of financing the promises they make in their election manifestos. The guidelines that followed Supreme Court directions in this regard have now been made part of the Model Code.
With the announcement of poll dates, the Model Code of Conduct for governments and political parties has come into force with immediate effect. Therefore, once elections are announced, the Cabinet will no longer be able to take key decisions.
Total electorate is approximately 814 million, 10 crore more than last Parliament electon
9.30 lakh polling station today which is 12% more polling stations than last elections