The Centre and the state administration, being managed by the Centre-appointed Governor, are against holding the two elections together. However, all political parties in the state favoured simultaneous polls during a meeting with the Election Commission earlier this week.
The J-K assembly’s six-year term was to end on March 16, 2021, but it got dissolved after a ruling coalition between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fell apart. The other state assemblies and Lok Sabha have five-year terms.
The required electronic voting machines and paper trail machines are in place to be deployed in nearly 10 lakh poling stations across 543 Lok Sabha constituencies. There is a high probability of the elections being spread across seven to eight phases this time.
In 2014, the EC had announced the election schedule on March 5 and the nine-phase electoral exercise was spread across April and May. While the first phase polling was on April 7, the last phase was on May 12.
Opposition parties had been questioning the delay in announcing the poll dates, with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel asking the EC whether it was waiting for the Prime Minister’s “official” travel programme “to conclude”.
PM Narendra Modi has been making a quick dash to states, conducting election rallies as well as government functions ahead of the announcement. He inaugurated projects worth Rs. 59,000 crore this week across three states – Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Several other key ministers of the BJP were also busy with a string of inaugurations.
Once the model code of conduct — a set of guidelines issued by the EC for the conduct of political parties and candidates when the electoral process is underway — comes into force, parties in power at the Centre and in states are barred from making any announcements that can impact poll outcome or disturb the level playing field.
As per new rules introduced by the election commission, candidates will have to give details of their properties abroad, besides those in the country in their poll affidavits.
“The I-T department will look into it and, if any, discrepancies are found then it will be uploaded on the Election Commission (EC) website and strict action will be initiated,” CEC Sunil Arora said.
When asked about the EC’s stand on inflammatory speeches, Arora said in his review meetings, he tried to find out the status of such cases lodged during previous elections. In all the 1,63,331 polling centres, VVPAT machines will be used this time, he said.