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|October 29, 1998||
EC bans opinion polls 48 hours before voting
The formal process for the November 25 elections to the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Mizoram assemblies and one Lok Sabha seat -- Bharuch (reserved) in Gujarat -- begins tomorrow with the issue of the poll notifications.
Simultaneously, assembly by-elections will be held in Udharbond (Assam), Sehor (Bihar), Baijnath (Himachal Pradesh), Mongoya (Nagaland), Adampur (Punjab), Agra East (Uttar Pradesh), and Baruipur, Mayureswar and Nandanpur (West Bengal).
Nominations for all the elections will be accepted by the respective returning officers till November 6. Scrutiny will be taken up the next day. The last date for withdrawal of candidature is November 9.
Polling will be held on November 25 in all the constituencies. Counting of votes will be taken up on November 28.
The Election Commission has asked the returning officers to complete the entire process before December 4. The new state assemblies are therefore likely to be constituted before the terms of their predecessors expire in December.
The commission has directed all the states concerned to implement the model code of conduct for politicians, candidates, and governments to ensure a level playing field.
It has also decided to ban opinion polls 48 hours before voting begins so that voters can take a decision without any "undue influence".
After many years, the commission has decided to use electronic voting machines, if only in 16 assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
The constituencies are Gwalior, Lakshar East, Lakshar West, Bhopal South, and Bhopal North in Madhya Pradesh; Hawa Mahal, Johribazar, Kishanpole, Ajmer East (Scheduled Caste), and Ajmer West in Rajasthan; and Sarojini Nagar, Gole Market, Minto Road, Kasturba Nagar, Jangpura, and Delhi Cantonment in Delhi.
In Jaipur, Rajasthan Chief Electoral Officer Dr Dudheer Verma said about 30 million people are eligible to vote in the assembly election. Electoral rolls are being updated to enrol last-minute applicants.
More than 40,800 polling booths are being set up in the 200 assembly constituencies in the state to conduct the first-ever one-day polling.
A spokesman said adequate security arrangements are being made to ensure peaceful polling. About 200,000 employees of the state government will be put on election duty and 75,000 security personnel will be deployed at the booths. Verma said 290 additional companies of central paramilitary forces are being requisitioned.
The state government has announced a public holiday on November 25. Banks and other financial institutions and industrial establishments will also remain closed under the Negotiable Instruments Act.
The Election Commission has appointed 50 central observers, two for every parliamentary constituency, to monitor the expenditure incurred by candidates on electioneering. Rajasthan has 25 parliamentary constituencies.
In Madhya Pradesh, elections are being held for a 320-member assembly.
The ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party have set in motion the process to select candidates. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal, Chhattisgarh Samaj Party, Shiv Sena and Gondwana Gantantra Party have already announced their first lists.
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