‘Simultaneous polls in UP, 4 other states in Feb-Mar’
Uttar Pradesh, which is set to witness game-changer elections, and four other states will go to polls simultaneously, most likely in February-March next, commencing shortly after the presentation of the Union Budget on February one.
While it will be a single-day polling in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, Uttar Pradesh is likely to have as many as seven phases, sources in the Election Commission said. The BJP, which had swept the Lok Sabha elections more than two years ago, winning 70 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, is seeking to make a comeback by wresting power after 15 years from the ruling SP. The BSP is expected to give a stiff challenge to both of them.
In Punjab, after two successive terms, the ruling SAD-BJP combine is facing a tough battle from Congress on the one hand and a fledgeling AAP on the other. Uttarakhand, where the ruling Congress staged a sensational comeback this year following a legal battle, is fighting anti-incumbency and facing challenge from the BJP. Goa, where the ruling BJP is seeking a fresh term, is pitted against Congress and AAP. In Manipur, the Congress is seeking to retain power.
As a matter of abundant precaution, the government approached the Commission for clearing its proposal to present the Union Budget in Lok Sabha on February one and avoid criticism of violating the model code of conduct that will come into force the day elections are announced.
Sources said that the Commission had no objection to the budget exercise being carried on because of the fact that it would cover the entire country and was not specific to the poll-bound states. It has also been conveyed to the government that caution should be exercised so that overtly populist measures are not included in the budget aimed at voters in these states.
CEC Nasim Zaidi had recently said, “We are trying to assess the requirement of security forces, climate and exam schedule – all these inputs are being taken into consideration. Only then we will be able to say whether they will be staggered or multi-phase.”