EC announces election schedule for five states: Here are the key dates

Photo: CEC
West Bengal will go to polls in eight phases, where the first phase of polling in the state will be held on March 27, said Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday, while announcing the dates for the upcoming assembly elections in various states.

Polling for 30 assembly seats in the second phase will start on April 1. In the third phase, 31 assembly constituencies will vote on April 6. The date of polling for 44 constituencies in Phase 4 is April 10. The fifth phase of polling will begin on April 17. While the polling for Phase 6, 7, and 8 will be held on April 22, April 26, and April 29 respectively. 

Meanwhile in Assam, elections will be held in three phases. First phase of polls will be held on March 27, second phase will commence on April 1, and third phase will be on April 6. 

All the Assembly seats in Kerala will vote in single phase, i.e, on April 6. The polling in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will also be on April 6 in a single phase.

The results for all the four states and one union territory will be announced on May 2.

The chief election commissioner (CEC), Sunil Arora, paid tributes to the Covid warriors, doctors, paramedics, and all the officials on election duty who are located on the frontline.

"Postal Ballot has been extended to voters above age of 80, people with disabilities and people involved in essential services. Polling time has been extended by an hour," the CEC said, adding that the door-to-door campaigning will be restricted to five persons including the candidate.

Elections will be held for 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 140 seats in Kerala, 126 seats in Assam and 30 seats in Puducherry.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already deployed it's election machine in the states that are about to vote. Led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ruling party at the Centre has started campaigning aggressively. Several leaders including Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited the poll-bound states multiple times. 

In West Bengal, the ECI had already dispatched central security forces to the state. Reacting to the presence of forces, the Trinamool Congress accused the BJP of treating the elections like "war". The election body, however, clarified that central forces were also sent to each of the poll-bound states, and that it was a part of a routine exercise.

In Puducherry, the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government fell, following a spate of resignations by his party MLAs and a DMK legislator. The President's Rule has been imposed and the assembly was suspended.

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