Uttar Pradesh could have a seven-phase election while Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur could witness single-day polling in simultaneous elections likely to be conducted by the Election Commission in February-March next year. The BJP, which had swept the Lok Sabha elections more than two years ago, winning 70 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, is seeking to make a comeback by wresting power after 15 years from the ruling SP. The BSP is expected to give a stiff challenge to both of them.
[su_expand more_text=”READ MORE” less_text=” ” height=”0″ hide_less=”yes” link_style=”button” link_align=”center”]According to sources in the Election Commission, the preparations for the schedule of polls are underway and the elections to the five States may be held shortly after the presentation of Union Budget on February 1.
In Punjab, after two successive terms, the ruling SAD-BJP combine is facing a tough battle from Congress on the one hand and a fledgling AAP on the other. Uttarakhand, where the ruling Congress staged a sensational comeback this year following a legal battle, is fighting anti-incumbency and facing a challenge from the BJP.
Goa, where the ruling BJP is seeking a fresh term, is pitted against Congress and AAP. In Manipur, the Congress is seeking to retain power. As a matter of abundant precaution, the government approached the Commission for clearing its proposal to present the Union Budget in Lok Sabha on February one and avoid criticism of violating the model code of conduct that will come into force the day elections are announced.
Sources said that the Commission had no objection to the budget exercise being carried on because of the fact that it would cover the entire country and was not specific to the poll-bound states. It has also been conveyed to the government that caution should be exercised so that overtly populist measures are not included in the budget aimed at voters in these states.
The Commission is working on a schedule for the polls which should be completed by the middle of March so that new assemblies in these states could be constituted well in time before the expiry of their tenure. It is working out the requirements of security forces with the Centre and the states concerned for ensuring that the polls are free and fair.
Nearly a lakh of state police and central armed police force personnel may be deployed to ensure that the electoral exercise is smooth and free from violence and malpractices like booth capturing. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had recently said, “We are trying to assess the requirement of security forces, climate, and exam schedule. All these inputs are being taken into consideration. Only then we will be able to say whether they will be staggered or multi-phase.”
While the term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly ends on May 27, 2017, those of Goa, Manipur, and Punjab end on March 18. The Uttarakhand Assembly’s term ends on March 27.