The high-stakes assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) will be held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, while Punjab and Goa will go to polls together on February 4, Uttarakhand on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and 8, with counting to be held on March 11.
Announcing the poll schedule for five states, Chief Election Commissioner of India Nasim Zaidi said the seven-phased UP Assembly polls for 403 constituencies will be held on February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8.
He said over 16 crore people will participate in these polls for a total of 690 constituencies in five states, for which the Commission has set up 1.85 lakh polling stations, which are 15 per cent more than those set up in 2012 polls.
The CEC flanked by the two Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat announced that the poll process will commence with the issue of notification on January 11 for Punjab and Goa polls where candidates can start filing their nominations.
“The Model Code of Conduct will come into immediate effect and will apply to political parties and state governments concerned, besides the Central government in terms of announcements in these states,” Zaidi told reporters.
The CEC said candidates will have to open a fresh bank account for all election expenses and all expenses above Rs 20,000 will be made through cheques from their respective accounts. He added that all donations will also be accepted through cheques.
The maximum limit for expenses for each candidate in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand is Rs 28 lakh, while that in Goa and Manipur is Rs 20 lakh, he said.
The first phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections covering 73 constituencies in 15 districts will be held on February 11, while 67 constituencies spread over 11 districts will go to polls on February 15 in Phase II. Similarly, for Phase III covering 69 constituencies in 12 districts of the states, polls will be held on February 19 and Phase IV and Phase V will be held on February 23 and February 27, covering 53 and 52 constituencies respectively.
Phase VI of UP polls covering 49 will be held on March 4 and the last phase covering 40 seats will be held on March 8.
The assembly polls in Punjab and Goa with 117 and 40 constituencies respectively, will be held in one go on February 4, with the poll process being set rolling on January 11 with the filing of nominations.
Uttarakhand with 70 assembly constituencies will go to polls in one go on February 15, while Manipur will have to poll in two phases on March 4 and 8.
The poll process will start in Uttarakhand on January 20, while that for Manipur will commence on February 11 with the issue of notification, where the nominations will start.
He said for the first time the EC will issue Standard Operating Procedures for the first 72 hours of the poll process after the announcement of polls and for the last 72 hours before polling to ensure that the poll machinery is set rolling and activated.
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 possessed citizenship of any other country.
The Election Commission will deploy about 400 expenditure observers, drawn from the IRS and other central services, to check use of black money and other illegal inducements in the Assembly polls in
Officials said while 200 observers will be drawn from the Income Tax department stream of the Indian Revenue Service, 150 are from the Central Excise and Customs department of the IRS and about 50 more from other central services.