Assembly polls: WB to have six-phase poll
With parts of the state affected by Maoists activities, West Bengal will have elections in six phases on April 18, 23, 27, May 3, 7 and 10, in perhaps the longest ever in the state, also known for political violence.
Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry will go to polls on April 13, Assam's two-phased poll is scheduled on April 4 and 11.
Counting of votes in all the five states will take place on May 13. The model code of conduct has come into force immediately, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said announcing the schedule.
While West Bengal has 294 assembly constituencies, Tamil Nadu has 234, Kerala has 140, Puducherry has 30 and Assam has 126 constituencies respectively.
Image: West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya
Ground realities forced Bengal polls extension
While Kerala has 2.29 crore electors, Assam has 1.81 crore and Puducherry is merely eight lakh. Polling will be held through Electronic Voting Machines.
Asked as to why the EC has gone in for a six-phased polls in West Bengal, the CEC said that a decision was taken keeping in view the "ground realities". The EC had already sent two teams to the state to study the law and order situation in the state.
On reports that 100 companies of Central Paramilitary forces have been made available for the conduct of elections, he merely said that the EC never discloses the forces it has and the government had assured adequate forces to ensure free and fair polls.
Image: Kerala CM VS Achutanandan
All critical events will be videographed
There have been elections only to few states since last Lok Sabha polls including those in Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Haryana in 2009 and Bihar in 2010.
There will be as many as 54,016 polling stations in Tamil Nadu, 51,919 in West Bengal, 23,813 in Assam, 20,758 in Kerala and 851 in Puducherry.
Quraishi said all critical events will be videographed including filing of nominations, scrutiny and allotment of symbols. Digital cameras would also be deployed inside polling booths wherever needed and inside all counting centres.
The Commission has directed that voters slips including photograph of the voters wherever available in the photo rolls will be distributed to all enrolled voters by the poll officials instead of political parties as has been practice in the past, he said.
Image: Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi
Assam has a two-phase poll, Kerala, TN have single phase polling
The notification for the second phase will be issued on March 18, last date for nominations on March 25, scrutiny on March 26, the last date for withdrawal March 28 and polling will be on April 11.
In Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, notifications would be issued on March 19, last date for filing nominations is March 26, scrutiny March 28, last date for withdrawal on March 30 and polling on April 13.
In West Bengal, the polling for the six phases will be held on April 18, 23, 27, May 3, 7 and 10. The assembly polls are expected to see a keen tussle between rival sides.
In Tamil Nadu, the ruling DMK is facing an uphill task with the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK which is in an upbeat mood in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam. Jayalalithaa is in the process of stitching a formidable alliance with Vijayakanth-led DMDK. The Left parties and the Vaiko-led MDMK are already in the AIADMK front.
Image: Assam CM Tarun Gogoi
The Congress is looking to hold on to power
In West Bengal, the ruling Left front is expected to face a tough political battle after remaining in power for over three decades with Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress raring to give a stiff fight.
In Assam, the Congress has been in power for the last two terms and is unlikely to have any alliance with other parties while opposition Asom Gana Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party ready for the polls.
The proposed peace talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom are also expected to boost the Congress chances at the hustings. In Kerala, the Congress-led United Democratic Front is promising to give the ruling Left Democratic Front a run for its money.
In Puducherry, Congress is striving hard to retain power.
Image: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Bannerjee