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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Election Commission announces poll schedule for five states, voting between November 7 and 30

Counting of votes for all states to be held on December 3

Pheroze L. Vincent New Delhi Published 10.10.23, 05:59 AM
CEC Rajiv Kumar hinted that Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir could be held at the same time as the Lok Sabha polls.

CEC Rajiv Kumar hinted that Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir could be held at the same time as the Lok Sabha polls. File Photo

The Election Commission (EC) on Monday announced that Assembly elections in Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana would be held between November 7 and 30, and the counting of votes would take place on December 3.

Cumulatively, they make up one-sixth of all Assembly constituencies in India and the results are bound to have a bearing on the discourse in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls next year.

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Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar hinted that Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir could be held at the same time as the Lok Sabha polls.

Mizoram and southern Chhattisgarh will vote on November 7. The rest of Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh will vote on November 17. Rajasthan is scheduled to vote on November 23 and Telangana on November 30.

When questioned about Jammu and Kashmir, the CEC told reporters: “Whatever time is suitable in the view of the commission, and other elections in the state which are also simultaneously due, will be examined and you will be informed of the decision.”

The only other election due in the state, that the EC conducts, is the Lok Sabha polls. Jammu and Kashmir has not had an Assembly since 2018—and has since been bifurcated into two union territories after its autonomous status was removed the following year.

The EC has amended the rules so as to ensure that polling officials will only be able to exercise their postal ballots at designated facilitation centres. Kumar explained: “Postal ballot voters becoming a force and an interest group and deciding after the poll where to cast the vote is not the right practice. After polling, predicting the margins, some postal voters begin to bargain to further their interests.”

Previously, polling officials also had the option to mail their ballots to the returning officer so as to reach before 8am of the counting day. Thus, many such voters kept postal ballots at their homes for a long time after performing poll duty.

The EC is of the view that if a postal ballot remains with a voter for a long time, the person could be susceptible to undue influence.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the first phase of polling took place on April 11 and the counting on May 23. In large states such as Uttar Pradesh, there was a month’s gap between the first vote being cast and the counting.

During the Goa polls in February, the Congress complained that the ruling BJP was forcing polling officials to vote in its favour, following which election authorities issued a general warning.

Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are ruled by the Congress, Madhya Pradesh by the BJP, and Mizoram by the Mizo National Front. Telangana is held by the Bharat Rashtra Samithi whose leader and chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has made his national ambitions known.

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