India Goes to Polls Starting April 11, Results on May 23

The biggest electoral exercise in the world — India’s general elections — will be held in seven phases across 543 parliamentary constituencies starting exactly a month from now on April 11 till May 19, the Election Commission announced.The results will be out on May 23.

The entire process, chief election commissioner Sunil Arora said, will be completed well before June 3, by when the next Lok Sabha must be in place. This time 900 million registered voters will be eligible to cast their vote, which means a little over 84 million new voters compared with the last LS elections in 2014.

While the states of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will go to polls simultaneously with Lok Sabha elections, assembly elections to Jammu & Kashmir will be held later, Arora said, citing recent incidents and the security requirements for conducting state elections.

Elections will be held in all seven phases in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. J&K LS polls will be conducted in five phases while Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha will have elections in four phases. Besides these, it will be three phases for Assam and Chhattisgarh, two phases for Karnataka, Manipur, Tripura and Rajasthan. In 22 states and union territories, elections will be held in a single phase.

The first two phases on April 11 and April 18 will cover 188 constituencies while a maximum of 113 constituencies in 14 states will vote in the third phase on April 23. The remaining will be covered over the next four phases.

By-elections to 34 vacant assembly constituencies in 12 states will also be held as per the same schedule alongside the relevant parliamentary constituency.

While the Model Code of Conduct kicks in with immediate effect, the electoral process will begin on March 18 when notification for filing of nomination for Phase 1 elections is put out.

For the first time, the ECI will appoint expenditure observers in certain states to check excessive money flow in elections and also appoint social media observers in the media-cum-monitoring committee across districts and states.

Every social media advertisement of a political party will come under the model code and go through the same pre-certification process followed for advertisements in print and electronic media. The EC has assured digital media outlets they will check fake news and hate speech besides appointing grievance redressal officers for the same.

The EC also rejected political allegations about delaying the electoral schedule as compared with 2014, maintaining that the poll calendar was well on time and as per schedule without making any compromises.

Further, Arora emphasised that strict action will be taken against any violation of the model code of conduct including against political parties and leaders who use photos of defence personnel in election publicity material.

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