Model code comes into effect as EC announces poll dates in five states, results on May 19
Our Bureau & Agencies
New Delhi/ Guwahati, March 4: Elections to the 126-member Assam assembly will be held in two phases on April 4 and 11, the Election Commission announced on Friday.
"In the first phase, voting will be held in 65 constituencies and remaining 61 constituencies in the second phase," Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) sim Zaidi said here.
Announcing the dates for the Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil du and Puducherry, the CEC said the Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately.
West Bengal will see balloting on seven dates: April 4, 11, 17, 21, 25 and 30 and May 5.
In contrast, Tamil du, Kerala and Puducherry will see polling on a single day: May 16.
Votes polled in all five states will be counted on May 19, Zaidi said.
The none of the above (NOTA) option will now have a symbol on the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for the upcoming assembly elections.
"For the first time, the commission has provided a new symbol, designed by tiol Institute of Design (NID), for the NOTA option. This new symbol will facilitate the voters in casting their vote," he said.
In order to facilitate the electors in identifying the candidates, the commission has prescribed an additiol measure by way of adding provision for printing the photograph of candidate also on the ballot to be displayed on the EVM and on postal ballot papers.
"This will also take care of likely confusion when candidates with same or similar mes contest from the same constituency. For this purpose, the candidates are required to submit to the returning officer, their recent stamp-size photograph as per specifications laid down by the commission," Zaidi said.
Many of the poll-bound states will be using the photograph of the candidates on the ballot papers for the first time.
The commission has also taken various measures to ensure free and fair elections by creating an atmosphere in which each elector is able to access the polling station, without being obstructed or being unduly influenced or intimidated by anybody.
"Based on the assessment of the ground situation, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and State Armed Police (SAP) drawn from other States will be deployed during these elections," he said.
Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Assam's Chief Election Officer Vijendra said a total of 1.98 crore people, which is 58 per cent of the population, is eligible to vote in the upcoming elections.
Altogether 12,190 polling stations in 8,887 locations will be set up for the first phase of elections, while in the second phase there will be 12,698 polling stations in 8,169 locations. Around 12 per cent of the polling stations are in urban areas.
The election commission has classified 3,663 polling stations as hyper sensitive, 7,629 as sensitive and 1,913 as critical.
"93.85 per cent of the electorate has been issued voter identity cards, while 98.6 per cent of them will have photographs in the electoral rolls," he said.
The election commission will be using Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems in polling stations in ten constituencies - Silchar, Dhubri, Goalpara East, Jalukbari, Guwahati East, Guwahati West, Dispur, gaon, Jorhat and Bongaigaon.
The CEO said half a section security personnel will be deployed in each polling location.
"We will need 3,197 micro observers. Videography will be done in 2,549 polling stations and web casting in 865 polling stations. We will also need 76 general observers, 46 expenditure observers and five police observers in each district," he said.
The expenditure limit of candidates is Rs 28 lakh. No person, including candidates, will be allowed to carry cash above Rs 50,000 till the model code of conduct is in place.
Besides, static surveillance teams, flying squads and video surveillance will be used in every constituency to ensure free and fair elections, he said, adding around 1.65 lakh civil personnel and 60,000 security men will be deployed for the exercise.
The State Election department has opened a helpline - 1950 - for receiving election related complaints.
The election commission will also be using 24,000 vehicles, 600 boats, 10 elephants and four choppers to conduct the elections in Assam.
In around 735 polling stations where there is no mobile connectivity, the election commission will use satellite phones and wireless set for communication.
The CEO said that people whose mes are still not in the voters list can apply till a day before the last date of filing of nomition.