Polling in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections is likely to commence in the second week of April and may be spread over seven phases, the longest so far, highly placed sources said on Sunday.
The probable dates for the commencement of polling are between April 7 and 10, the sources in the Election Commission said while emphasising that the poll schedule was still being “fine tuned”.
As of now, the plan is to have voting, involving over 81 crore voters, in seven phases but efforts are on to reduce that to six phases. The 2009 polls were held in five phases from April 16 to May 13.
The much-expected announcement of the schedule is expected in the middle of this week. The Model Code of Conduct for governments and political parties will come into force from the date of announcement.
However, the Election Commission has ruled out advancing the schedule or compressing it to avoid the summer heat, a demand put forward at the all-party meeting convened by the Commission last month.
The term of the current Lok Sabha expires on June 1 and the new House has to be constituted by May 31.
Along with the Lok Sabha polls, Andhra Pradesh, including the regions comprising the newly-carved out Telangana, Odisha and Sikkim will go to polls to elect new assemblies.
Highly placed sources in the Commission said finishing touches were being given to the schedule. Consultations with the Union Home Ministry, state governments, para-military forces and Chief Electoral Officers of states have already been completed.
There was speculation that the announcement may be slightly delayed for the Centre to promulgate some of the ordinances it plans to bring out against corruption and on some other issues but there is no confirmation of it.
If a six or a seven-phased schedule is finalised, it would be the first time the country would witness elections over such a long period.
The sources said that the attempt is to “maximise” use of forces and the polling days. In the first phase, polling is expected to be held in some of the naxal-hit states and in some North-East states.
For the first time in parliamentary polls, a system of paper trail for electronic voting will be introduced in some constituencies on a trial basis.
There have been demands that a paper trail should be in place so that a fool-proof record is created and controversies avoided in case of a dispute or an election petition filed in courts.
In a bid to create a level-playing field, the Model Code of Conduct bars governments in the Centre and in the states from making any kind of announcements regarding new schemes or promises so as to lure voters.
The Commission has also issued guidelines to political parties asking them to …continued »