Election dates for five states announced, NOTA allowed
In all the four states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, arch rivals Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are locked in direct battle. The BJP has no presence in Mizoram.
Of the four major states, the Congress would be fighting to retain two states of Delhi and Rajasthan, whereas the BJP would be fighting to stay in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattishgarh. While chief ministers of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan would be contesting to score a hat-trick for the BJP, veteran politician Sheila Dikshit would be leading her party for the fourth consecutive term in the
In Rajasthan, prime adversaries sitting chief minister Ashok Gehlot of the Congress and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje of the BJP would come face-to-face. The north-western state has seldom repeated a chief minister since the 1970s. While the BJP has made it clear that its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would be the lead campaigner in all the four states, it’s not very clear how aggressively Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi would participate in their party’s campaign.
Welcoming the elections, Modi in a statement said: ‘Elections are a celebration of our democracy. We look forward to a healthy and spirited election.’
Meanwhile, with the announcement, the model code of conduct came into force immediately. The poll will see for the first time None Of The Above (NOTA) option, as per the direction of the Supreme Court recently, for voters who did not like any of the candidates. While the state of Chhattisgarh will have a two-phase polling on 11 and 19 November, other states will have one phase election. Delhi and Mizoram will go to polls on 4 December, Madhya Pradesh on 25 November and Rajasthan on 1 December.
Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, announcing the schedule for the assembly elections, said that counting of votes for all the five states will take place on 8 December. He said that the commission is taking necessary steps to make available NOTA option for voters in the electronic voting machines. ‘The Election Commission is working out details and steps for introduction of NOTA option in these polls itself,’ Sampath said.