The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poll ball rolls in two states

New Delhi, Aug. 24: The Assembly poll machine was set in motion today after the Election Commission announced elections to Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh.

The elections will be held on October 7 in Arunachal and October 13 in Maharashtra, the poll panel said here. Bypolls to four Lok Sabha and 41 Assembly seats in 14 states will be held on October 13.

The model code of conduct governing contestants thus came into effect in the states today. The counting will be held on October 10 in Arunachal and October 16 in Maharashtra.

The four Lok Sabha seats going to bypolls are Mainpuri and Akbarpur in Uttar Pradesh, Madhepura in Bihar and Bidar in Karnataka. Mainpuri was vacated by chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Madhepura by railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav.

Of the 41 Assembly seats, 12 are in Uttar Pradesh, four each in Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, three each in Nagaland, Punjab and Bengal, two each in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi and one each in Assam, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Krishnamurthy said the poll panel discussed a two-phase election in Maharashtra but opted for a single-day affair.

Shortly after the announcement, the BJP brass went into a huddle in president M. Venkaiah Naidu’s home because sources said “this is a do-or-die battle for us”. “In a sense, the BJP’s future is linked to the outcome in Maharashtra,” they added.

The BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the western state has decided not to project a chief ministerial candidate but elect a leader from the party with the most seats, the sources said.

The trickiest aspect, they said, was the choice of poll plank — national issues or the perceived “anti-incumbency wave” against the Congress-NCP government.

A prevalent view is that the BJP-Sena should pursue the Veer Savarkar controversy. It was triggered after Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar allegedly ordered the removal of a plaque in Savarkar’s memory at Cellular Jail in Port Blair.

Congress sources said the controversy would have “limited” impact in cities and towns and none on youngsters. The ruling party’s problems are recovering lost ground in Vidarbha and Marathwada, combating anti-incumbency and consolidating the alliance with the NCP.


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