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India to vote on 9 days starting April 7, Bengal gets 5 dates

New Delhi, Mar 5 (PTI): Lok Sabha elections will be held from April 7 to May 12, spread over nine days and involving an electorate of 814 million, making it the biggest election the world has ever seen.

West Bengal will vote on five days to elect 42 MPs on April 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12.

Counting of votes in all the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies will be held on a single day, May 16, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath announced at a press conference flanked by commissioners H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi.

Assembly elections will also be held simultaneously in the states of Andhra Pradesh, including Telangana region, Odisha and Sikkim.

Sampath was at pains to clarify that it is not a nine-phased polling and the whole exercise will be over in 72 days, three days less than the last elections.

The Model Code of Conduct for parties and governments comes into force with immediate effect, he said.

The first polling day on April 7 will cover six Lok Sabha constituencies in two states, while the second on April 9 will cover seven constituencies in five states.

On April 10, the third day, 92 constituencies will go to polls in 14 states, while a small number of five constituencies in three states will be covered on the fourth day, April 12.

The largest chunk of 122 Lok Sabha seats will go to polls in 13 states on April 17, while the sixth day will witness polling in 117 seats in 12 states on April 24.

The seventh day of polling on April 30 will cover 89 constituencies spread over nine states and the eighth day, May 7, will cover 64 seats in seven states.

Polling will conclude on the ninth day, May 12, with elections in 41 constituencies in three states.

Andhra Pradesh, which has 42 Lok Sabha seats, will go to polls on April 30 and May 7. Elections in the respective assembly segments will be held simultaneously.

The first day of polling on April 30 will cover 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 Assembly seats in the Telangana region and the second on May 7 will cover 25 Lok Sabha seats and 175 Assembly seats in the Seemandhra region.

Sampath explained that irrespective of the appointed day for the creation of the new state of Telangana, elections will be held in the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies as they exist today.

The corresponding Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies would go to the respective states once the bifurcation process of the state is complete.

Arunachal Pradesh will have single day polling on April 9 to cover two constituencies, while Assam with 14 Lok Sabha seats will have a three-day poll on April 7, 12 and 24.

The battle state of Bihar with 40 constituencies will have polling on six days beginning April 10, 17, 24, 30 and May 7 and 12.

Naxal-hit state of Chhattisgarh will vote on three days-- April 10, 17 and 24 --- to elect 11 MPs, while the small state of Goa with two constituencies will have a single day polling on April 17.

Gujarat (26 seats), Haryana (10) and Himachal Pradesh (4) will have a single day polling on April 30, April 10 and May 7 respectively. Kerala (20) and Karnataka (28) will also have a single day polling on April 10 and 17 respectively.

Jammu & Kashmir with six Lok Sabha seats will witness polling on five days on April 10, 17, 24, 30 and May 7, while Jharkhand with 14 seats will go to polls on three days - April 10, 17 and 24.

Madhya Pradesh (29) and Maharashtra (48) will go to polls on three days -- April 10, 17 and 24.

Two seats in Manipur will go to polls on April 9 and 17 while its neighbours Meghalaya (2), Mizoram (1) and Nagaland (1) will go to polls on a single day on April 9.

Odisha (21 Lok Sabha seats) will vote on April 10 for 10 constituencies and April 17 for 11 constituencies. On the same days, assembly elections will be held on 70 and 77 assembly segments respectively.

Punjab will have a single-day polling on April 30 to elect 13 MPs, while Tamil Nadu (39 seats) and Puducherry (1) and will go to polls on April 24. Uttarakhand (5) will go to polls on May 7.

Voters in Rajasthan with 25 seats will exercise their franchise on April 17 and 24 to elect 20 on the first day and 5 MPs on the other day.

Sikkim's lone Lok Sabha seat will go to polls on April 12 while simultaneously electing its 32-member Assembly.

Tripura with two seats will witness a two-day poll on April 7 and 12 while heartland Uttar Pradesh will choose 80 MPs on six days on April 10, 17, 24, 30 and May 7 and 12.

NCT of Delhi with seven seats will have a single day poll on April 10. Likewise the Union Territories of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh and Lakshadweep will choose their lone representatives on April 10, while Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu will elect their sole representatives on April 30.

The total electorate in the country, according to the final published E-rolls with January 1, 2014 as the cut-off date, is about 814.5 million compared to 713 million in 2009, an increase of more than 100 million.

Over 23 million new electors in this age group of 18 to 19 years, constituting 2.88 per cent of total electors, have been added. The last election had seen an increase of 0.75 per cent in this age group.

The Chief Election Commissioner appealed to the political parties and candidates to uphold the peerless democratic traditions of the nation by maintaining high standards of political discourse and fair play in their election campaign.

Reassuring the nation of its commitment to hold free, fair and credible elections, Sampath exhorted the 11 million election officials to re-dedicate themselves to the tasks associated with the conduct of elections as a sacred duty.

He also called upon all voters to reinforce the democratic ethos of the nation by turning up at polling stations and exercising their right to vote in an informed and ethical manner.

Bye-elections to 23 vacancies in Bihar (2), Gujarat (7), Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram (one each), Uttar Pradesh (4) and West Bengal (6) will be held simultaneously on the dates of Lok Sabha elections in these states.