EC plans 7-phase Lok Sabha polling, dates this week
The probable dates for the commencement, however, may waver between 7 and 10 April depending on the availability of manpower for holding the largest elections globally involving 81 crore voters. Sources in the EC said finishing touches were being given to the schedule. Consultations with the union home ministry, state governments, paramilitary forces and chief electoral officers of states have already been completed.
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 turn out to be 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 would be deployed.
Sources said the much-expected announcement of the schedule is likely to take place in middle of this week. The Model Code of Conduct for governments and political parties will come into force from the date of announcement, said sources. As of now, the plan is to have voting in seven phases but efforts are on to reduce that to six phases. If a six or a seven-phased schedule is finalised, it would be the first time the country would witness elections over such a long period. The sources said that the attempt is to ‘maximise’ use of forces and the polling days.
Sources in EC said advancing the schedule or compressing it to avoid the summer heat, a demand put forward at the all-party meeting convened by the Commission last month, was remote. The term of the current Lok Sabha expires on 1 June and the new House has to be constituted by 31 May. Along with the Lok Sabha polls, Andhra Pradesh, including the regions comprising the newly-carved out Telangana, Odisha and Sikkim will go to polls to elect new assemblies.
In the first phase, polling is expected to be held in some of the naxal-hit states and in
some northeastern states. 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.