The counting of votes for all five states will be held on March 11.
Assembly elections in the politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur will be held between February 4 and March 8 in what will be the first major test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's gamble on demonetisation.
While polling will be spread over seven phases in Uttar Pradesh, it will be a one-day affair in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa, and a two-day exercise in Manipur.
Counting of votes will be taken up together in all the states on March 11, the Election Commission announced on Wednesday setting in process the mega political exercise in the new year.
Announcing the schedule, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the Commission will keep a watch on the use of black money, which is expected to come down due to demonetisation. Steps will be taken up to ensure that other illegal inducements are not used to influence voters, he said.
In Uttar Pradesh, which has a 403-member House, polls will be held on February 11 (73 constituencies), February 15 (67 constituencies), February 19 (69), February 23 (53), February 27 (52), March 3 (49) and March 8 (40).
SEE HOW UP WILL VOTE
Unlike last elections, Manipur, which recently witnessed violence raising questions whether elections would be possible now, will have a two-day polling on March 4 (38 constituencies) and March 8 (22 seats). Here, the Congress seeks to retain power.
Polling will be held in Punjab and Goa together on February 4 and in Uttarakhand it will be held on February 15.
The whole electoral process will begin with the issue of notification for polls in Punjab and Goa on January 11.
The family feud and the split in ruling Samajwadi Party have injected a new dimension in the politics in Uttar Pradesh where the Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to capture power after 14 years on the back of a sweep in Lok Sabha elections in 2014. The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, the other main challengers, hope to make it a quadrangular fight but for some alliances being made.
Punjab, which a 117-member assembly, promises to be an essentially three-way fight between the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, the Congress and the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party.
After sensational political developments in Uttarakhand in 2016, where the Congress was temporarily dislodged from power due to defections, the party and the BJP are set for a virtual direct fight on 70 seats.
In Goa, where the BJP seeks to retain most of the 40 assembly seats to remain in power, the AAP is being seen as a new player which plans to topple the applecart of national parties Congress and BJP.
Over 16 crore people will participate in these polls for 690 constituencies in five states, for which the commission has set up 1.85 lakh polling stations, up 15 per cent from the number during the 2012 polls.
"The model code of conduct will come into immediate effect and will apply on political parties and state governments concerned, besides the Central government in terms of announcements in these states," Zaidi said.
The CEC said candidates will have to open a bank account for all election expenditures and expenses above Rs 20,000 will be made through cheques from the new accounts. He added that donations above Rs 20,000 will also be accepted through cheques.
The maximum limit for expenses for each candidates in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand is Rs 28 lakh, while that in Goa and Manipur is Rs 20 lakh, he said.
Responding to a question on poll funding, the CEC said the commission has already asked the government to cut down to Rs 2,000 the present Rs 20,000 limit on anonymous donations to parties.
He said as part of reforms, the candidates will have to submit a 'No-Demand Certificate' from agencies providing amenities and government accommodation. The certificate will come from agencies dealing with electricity, water, telephone and also the rent certificate of the government accommodation which these candidates may have occupied in past 10 years.
Defence personnel posted away from their homes constituencies can cast vote through one-way electronic transmission of ballot in the polls. But the facility may not be available in all the constituencies this time and could be extended in a select seats.
The commission had first experimented the initiative in a Puducherry bypoll recently.
Asked about suggestions that the Commission 'waited' for Prime Minister Modi's Lucknow rally before announcing the poll schedule, Zaidi said the poll panel "has its own mind."
"It does not make its schedule according to the request of political parties," he said.
The commission will issue photo voter slips to voters ahead of polls and will, for the first time, also distribute a colourful booklet that will guide the voters on date and time of polls and location of polling stations, besides Dos and Don'ts for them.
To encourage more participation of women in election management process, the EC will also have some all-woman polling stations this time around, besides making all polling stations friendly for differently-able persons.
The tenure of Punjab, Goa and Manipur assemblies are ending on March 18, while that of Uttarakhand's on March 26 and Uttar Pradesh assembly on May 27.
Of the total 690 constituencies going to polls in these five states, 133 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 23 for Scheduled Tribe.
To ensure full secrecy of a voter and that facial expressions don't indicate their choice of candidate, the EC had decided to increase the height of the shield that covers the EVM to 30 inches.
As per the schedule announced by the Election Commission, Punjab and Goa will go to polls on February 4 for which separate notifications will be issued on January 11 and the last date of filing nominations will be January 18.
Scrutiny of nomination papers will be carried out on January 19 and candidates can withdraw from the electoral battle till January 21.
In Uttar Pradesh, the notification for the first phase will be issued on January 17 and the last date of filing nominations would be January 24. The scrutiny will take place on January 25 and candidates can withdraw by January 27. The date of poll for phase 1 is February 11.
For phase 2, the notification will be issued on January 20 and the last date of filing papers is January 27. January 30 is the date set for scrutiny of nominations and February 1 is the last date when candidates can withdraw from contest.
The poll date for the second phase is February 15.
For the third phase in UP, the notification will be issued on January 24 and January 31 is the last date for filing nominations. The scrutiny date has been set as February 1 and by February 3, candidates can withdraw from the poll process. The date of poll is February 15.
The phase 4 notification will be issued on January 30 and February 6 is the date by which nominations can be filed. The scrutiny is the next day and withdrawal of candidature can be done till February 9. The polling date is February 23.
For phase 5, the notification will be issued on February 2 and the last date of filing nominations is February 9. The scrutiny is scheduled for the next day and by February 13 candidates can withdraw. The date of poll has been fixed for February 27.
For the penultimate phase, the nomination will be issued on February 7, and February 14 is the date by which nominations can be filed.
The scrutiny of papers is on February 16 and candidates can withdraw from the race by February 18. The date of poll for the sixth phase has been fixed for March 3.
The notification for the final phase of UP assembly election will be out on February 9. February 16 is the last date of making nominations and scrutiny will take place on February 17. Candidates can withdraw by February 20 and the date of poll is March 8.
Uttarakhand will go to polls on February 15 for which the notification will be issued on January 20 and the last date of filing nominations is January 27. The scrutiny will be held on January 30 and candidates can withdraw from the race by February 1.
The first phase of Manipur assembly election will take place on March 4 for which the notification will be issued on February 7. While nominations can be filed by February 14, the scrutiny will be held on February 16 and the candidates can withdraw till February 18.
The election in the second phase will be held on March 8 for which notification will be out on February 9. While February 16 is the last date of filing nominations, the scrutiny will be held the next day. Candidates can withdraw by February 20.
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