Single day poll in MP, Raj, Telangana, Mizoram; Chhattisgarh on 2 days

New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat addresses a press conference regarding the announcemet of the poll dates for five states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana, in New Delhi on Oct 6, 2018. (Photo: Bidesh Manna/IANS)

New Delhi (IANS): Setting the stage for the high-stakes battle between the BJP and the Congress in at least in three states ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year, the Election Commission on Saturday announced the schedule for Assembly elections in five states, including Telangana, between November 12 and December 7.

Counting of votes in all the states will be done on December 11, Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said announcing the schedule at a press conference here. 

Voting will be held in a single phase in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram and Rajasthan and Telangana on November 28 and December 7 respectively while Chhattisgarh will have a two-phased elections on November 12 and 20 as the 

The BJP and the Congress will face head-on in Madhya Pradesh (230 seats), Rajasthan (200) and Chattisgarh (90), where the saffron is in power while in Telangana (119) the ruling TRS is seeking a second term. In Mizoram (40) Congress is the ruling party.

The BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for three consecutive terms while in Rajasthan power alternates between the two parties every election.

The Model Code of Conduct comes into force with immediate effect in four states while in Telangana it was in force from the date of dissolution of the Assembly last month.

In Chhattisgarh, where the Commission decided to go for two phases in view of the Maoists problem, voting will be held in the most affected areas of the 18 constituencies in the southern part on November 12 and in the remaining 72 seats, voting will take place on November 20.

Notification for the first phase will be issued on October 16 and the last date for nominations would be October 23. Scrutiny will take place next day and the last date for the withdrawal of the nominations will be October 26.

The notification for the elections in the rest of the 72 constituencies in the second phase would be issued on October 26, while the last day for nominations would be November 2. Scrutiny will be done on November 3 and the last date for the withdrawal of the nominations will be November 5. The tenure of the Chhattisgarh Assembly comes to an end on January 5, 2019.

In Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram, the notification will be issued on November 2 while the last date for nominations would be November 9. Scrutiny will be done on November 12 and last date of withdrawal will be November 14.

While the term of the Assembly in Madhya Pradesh expires on January 7, the tenure 40-member Assembly in Mizoram expires on December 15.

In Rajasthan and Telangana, which will go to the polls in a single phase on December 7, the notification will be issued on November 12 and the last date for filing nominations will be November 19. Scrutiny will take place on November 20 while the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be November 22. The term of the Rajasthan Assembly expires on January 20, 2019. 

Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao dissolved the house last month -- nearly nine months before its term was to end.

Asked about the criticism over rescheduling the time of the press conference from 12.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and that it was done under pressure from Prime Minister to accommodate his election rally in Ajmer in Rajasthan, Rawat said there was no pressure from anywhere.

"There would not have been a delay of two-three hours but for the problem relating to electoral rolls in Telangana," he said and added parties were free to complain to the Commission if somebody got a concession.

"It is the duty of the Commission to satisfy all the stakeholders. We will hold free, fair and credible elections which is our commitment and compulsion," he said.

Earlier, he had said politicians and political parties make criticism and the Commission has no comments to make on that. 

To a question about the Commission declaring the schedule for Telangana without the full commission visiting the state, he said there was a problem about publication of the final electoral roll for which the date has been fixed as October 12 and there was a hearing before the High Court on the issue. Also the elections in the state have been fixed at the fag end of the current schedule so that there was time to rectify any problem.

Rawat said a team of Election Commission officials had already visited the state and held detailed discussions with stakeholders. The commission was satisfied and "that is why we have announced the schedule". 

He said the existing electoral rolls in the all the states have been revised with reference to January 1, 2018 as the qualifying date.

The CEC said the Electronic Voting Machies(EVMs) and Voter Varifiabled Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) will be used in the current roud of elections for which arrangements have been made to ensure their adequate number.

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