The election Commission on Wednesday announced the poll dates for the 5 election-bound states in the country. The Election Commission held a meeting on Tuesday with the Chief electoral officers of the 5 concerned states.
Uttar Pradesh will vote in seven phases starting February 11 with the final round of polling for the politically crucial state on March 8, the election commission announced on Wednesday.
Punjab and Goa will vote in a single phase on February 4. Uttarakhand will vote on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and 8. Counting of votes in all five states will take place on March 11.
Phase 1 of Uttar Pradesh elections will be held on February 11. The Phase 2 elections will be held on February 15, with 67 constituencies going to the polls. The third phase will be held on February 19. The fourth phase of elections will take place on February 23. The fifth phase takes place on February 27, the sixth on March 4 and the seventh phase on March 8.
The results of the elections for all states will be announced on March 11.
All states will go to elections simultaneously, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said.
He said that over 16 crore people will vote in the 5 states. 690 seats are at stake, with 23 reserved for SC/ST candidates. 1.85 lakh polling stations have been prepared for the election process.
Electoral roll of Goa will be published on January 5, Manipur on January 12, Punjab January 5, Uttarakhand on January 10 and Uttar Pradesh on January 12, Zaidi added.
The EC has imposed Model Code of Conduct in the states due for elections with immediate effect, restricting the central and state governments from announcing new schemes and sops..
Zaidi said that height of voting compartments has been increased to 30 feet for ensuring secrecy. He added that in order to promote women's empowerment, some polling booths will be manned entirely by women.
For the first time, ballots will carry photos of candidates.
"The limit for expenses for candidates is Rs 28 lakh for UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Rs 20 lakh for Manipur and Goa,” Zaidi said.
Zaidi also stated that the EC will completely abide by the Supreme Court verdict in the 'Hindutva' case, banning seeking of votes in the name of religion, caste and creed.
The election commission also announced a set of new rules for candidates contesting the elections, including opening separate bank accounts to pay for campaign expenses.
The panel said candidates must pay from these accounts by cheque for any campaign expense above Rs20,000. They will have to provide all details of expenses to the commission by no later than 75 days after the elections.
They will also have to furnish an additional affidavit undertaking that they do not have any outstanding government bills.