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Stage set for Lok Sabha polls


Along with the Lok Sabha polls, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will go to polls to elect their new assemblies. ‘The announcement of the poll schedule would be done in the last days of February or at best the first two-three days of March,’ the sources revealed. 
Before the scheduled announcement, the Lok Sabha may meet for one last time to pass a vote-on-account budget to enable expenditure for six months of the new fiscal year 2014-15 to give time for the new government to present a full-fledged budget in the next Parliament. 

There is also speculation that a special session of Parliament may be convened shortly to pass anti-corruption measures by the government in the run up to the elections. The term of the current Lok Sabha expires on 1 June and the new House has to be constituted by 31 May.  The Commission is looking into the issue of whether to spread the elections over five phases or may be one more phase.
 
An estimated 80 crore voters will be eligible to vote in the coming elections after new voters have been added to the rolls, whose final revision is underway.  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.  Other work in the run-up to the announcement of the poll schedule is in full swing. Dates are being considered for a meeting with the union home secretary for finalising deployment plans of central paramilitary forces before announcement of the poll schedule. 

Chief electoral officers of various states are also holding separate meetings with DGPs of states for availability of state police forces for polls. 

Poll officials said the database of the civilian staff to be deployed for conducting polls is also being prepared and at least 5.5 million civilian staff would be required. The EC is also working on finalising the polling stations for elections. At least 8 lakh polling stations are to be set up for polling across the country. Preparations for deployment of around 12 lakh electronic voting machines are also being made and the Commission is likely to get another 2.5 lakh new EVMs by mid-February which it had ordered with various public-sector companies. 

Favouring a multi-phased election for a country like that of India’s size and electorate, poll officials said it is better like this for ‘complete satisfaction of voters’. Otherwise it can lead to ‘discontentment’ in case of any shortcomings, they said. Top poll officials justified multi-phased polls, saying some states are to be accorded special treatment due to their being extremist-affected like Jammu and Kashmir and Chhattisgarh, besides others. The EC sources said the Commission has not conducted any election in a single go in one phase after 1971 as the size of the electorate in the world’s largest democracy has grown considerably over the years. 
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