The Election Commission on Saturday announced the Assembly polls schedule for Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Announcing the poll schedule in New Delhi this afternoon, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said, Uttar Pradesh will go to polls in seven phases from 10th February to 7th March. Voting for Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will be held on 14th of February in single phase. Manipur will vote on 27th February and 3rd March in two phases. Counting of votes will be held on 10th of March.
A total of 690 Assembly constituencies in Goa, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab will go to polls this time. The term of Goa Legislative Assembly is ending on 15th March this year, Manipur Assembly on 19th March, Uttarakhand and Punjab Legislative Assembly on 23rd March and Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly on 14th May this year.
Mr Chandra said that for the past two years, the impact of COVID 19 has made conduct of elections difficult. He said as COVID cases soared in view of Omicron variant, the poll panel held meetings with Union Health Secretary and Home Secretary, experts, and health secretaries of States.
The Chief Election Commissioner said, the poll panel this time has laid focus on Covid-safe elections with maximum participation. Mr Chandra said all polling stations will be equipped with Covid-mitigation facilities including sanitisers and masks. The number of booths have also been increased.
At least one polling booth in each assembly constituency will be exclusively managed by women personnel to encourage women voters. Mr Chandra said, this time emphasis has been given on increasing the gender ratio in all the States.
A total 18.34 crore electors will take part in this election out of which 8.55 crore are women electors. 24.9 lakh first-time electors are registered in the five States including Uttar Pradesh. Senior citizens above 80 years of age, persons with disabilities and COVID patients can vote by postal ballot.
All election officials and employees will be considered as frontline workers and all eligible officers will be vaccinated with precautionary dose.
No roadshows, padyatras, cycle or bike rallies and processions shall be allowed till 15th January.
The Election Commission will review the situation and issues further instructions accordingly. Political parties have been advised to conduct their campaign through digital mode as much as possible. A maximum of five persons to be allowed for door-to-door election campaign by candidates.
With the announcement of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect. In Uttar Pradesh, all major political parties have welcomed the decision of election commission to conduct the polls in the state. After the declaration of polling dates and Model Code of Conduct, local administration in districts removed hoardings and banners at many places. The Uttar Pradesh Assembly has a total of 403 seats, with 202 being the majority mark.