Assembly polls in 5 states including UP, Punjab from Feb 10; Results on March 10

New Delhi: Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa will be held between February 10 and March 7 in seven phases with counting of votes on March 10, the Election Commission announced on Saturday, and banned physical rallies and roadshows till January 15 due to Covid concerns.

The elections have huge political significance with BJP ruling four of these five states, while it is making a big push to capture Congress-ruled Punjab, where the Aam Aadmi Party is also emerging as an important player.

In all, elections will be held for 690 assembly seats, and 18.3 crore people, including 8.5 crore women, will be eligible to cast their votes in the five states.

In the politically important Uttar Pradesh, voting will start from the western region and move towards the east over seven phases.

Elections will be held in 403 assembly seats in the state in the seven phases from February 10 to March 7.

For Manipur's 60 assembly constituencies, elections will held in two phases on February 27 and March 3, while polling in Goa (40 seats), Punjab (117 seats) and Uttarakhand (70 seats) will be held on February 14.

Counting of votes for all five state assembly elections on March 10.

The Model Code of Conduct has come into effect in the five states with the announcement of the elections.

Polls amid COVID surge

All polling stations will be equipped with COVID-mitigation facilities including sanitisers and masks.

We aim to conduct COVID-safe elections in five states with maximum voter participation with extensive preparations, Chandra said.

The number of booths will also be increased.

Polling time in all five states is also increased by one hour.

All personnel on election duty will be doubly-vaccinated and also eligible for a precautionary third dose to ensure COVID-safe polls

Strict action will be taken against those violating Covid guidelines, including restrictions on physical events.

Though there were calls to see the elections postponed, the National Election Commission decided to go ahead with the polls with strict adherence to COVID protocols.

The Election Commission has had held numerous discussions with the Health Ministry to facilitate the same.

Other protocols

Polling stations identified where the voting percentage was lower than earlier years or below average to take corrective measures, Chandra said.

At least one polling booth in each assembly constituency will be exclusively managed by women personnel to encourage women voters.

A comprehensive plan of action is in place to ensure inducement-free elections in all five states, Chandra said.

Candidates contesting polls will be given an option for online nomination.

No roadshows, no car/cycle/bike rallies, no procession to be allowed till January 15.

No physical rallies are allowed till January 15 in wake of COVID-related concerns.

No victory procession is allowed post-results. However, the Commission will review this at a later date.

A maximum of five persons to be allowed for door-to-door election campaigns by candidates.

For now, it has advised political parties and candidates to conduct their election campaigns in digital or virtual modes as much as possible.

Zero tolerance towards money-power and misuse of the government machinery, the commissioner said.

All parties, candidates must ensure strong checks against hate speech, fake news; Strict vigil would be done on social media platforms.

Any violation of the model code of conduct, coming into effect with the announcement of the election schedule, will be strictly dealt with, he added.

BJP holds power in 4 states

While the term of the current Uttar Pradesh assembly is ending in May, those of the other four assemblies are ending on different dates in March.

More than 18 crore voters, including over 8.5 crore women, will be eligible to vote in five state assembly polls.

More than 15 cr voters in five poll-bound states got the first dose, over 9 cr both doses.

The BJP is in power in all four states except Punjab. The polls are being held amidst a number of developments, including the recent surge in COVID cases, the farmers' strike and the change of chief ministers in Punjab and Uttarakhand.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.