EC announces poll dates for five states, rallies banned till Jan 15

New Delhi, Jan 8 (UNI) The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday announced that Assembly elections will be held between February 10 and March 7 in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.

The Commission also laid down an extensive guideline to be followed in the polls in view of Covid-19. Counting of votes will be done on March 10.

The Election Commission also announced a restriction on rallies and public meetings till January 15 in view of rising Covid cases, and advised the political parties to hold their outreach programmes online.

Addressing a press conference here, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said the polls will be held in seven phases in Uttar Pradesh, in two phases in Manipur and on a single day in Goa, Uttarakhand and Punjab.

The elections in Uttar Pradesh will take place on February 10, 14 , 20, 23, 27, March 3 and 7.

Manipur will go to the polls on February 27 and March 3. Goa, Uttarakhand and Punjab will vote on February 14.

The counting of votes will be held on March 10, Chandra said.

He further said that consultations were held with all National and State Political parties on poll-going states, who suggested that elections should be held in time, while enforcing the covid appropriate behaviour.

Consultations were also held with the Home Secretary, Health Secretary and Medical experts, and Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of all poll going states regarding prevailing covid situation and measures being taken, the CEC said.

“It’s our duty to see how to conduct elections in a manner in which it protects both voters and votes,” he said.

In view of Covid protocols, the maximum number of electors per polling station has been brought down to 1250 from 1500. The number of polling stations will be 1,722 in Goa, 2,959 in Manipur, 24,689 in Punjab, 11,647 in Uttarakhand, and 1,74,351 in Uttar Pradesh.

At every polling stations, sanitizer and masks will be provided to the voters.

Covid patients and others, who are quarantined, will be allowed to cast their vote at the last hour of the poll on poll day at their respective Polling Stations, under the supervision of health authorities.

Rallies, public meetings and roadshows were meanwhile banned till January 15. The CEC said the decision will be reviewed after this period.

He also said as and when physical rallies are allowed, Covid protocols will have to be adhered to strictly, and maximum limit of persons allowed for Indoor and outdoor rallies will be as per the existing direction of respective SDMAs.

The rallies and meeting will be allowed only in earmarked places and with prior permissions of district administration.

As per the protocols, political parties are supposed to distribute masks and sanitizers to persons attending the rallies at entry and exit points.

Rallies and meetings will be allowed only in earmarked places with prior permissions of district administration.

Manipur has 60 Assembly seats, Goa has 40, Uttarakhand has 70, and Punjab has 117 seats, while Uttar Pradesh has 403.

More than 18 crore voters, including over 8.5 crore women, will be eligible to vote in five state Assembly polls. The CEC said the number of women voters increased in all five states, with Uttar Pradesh recording maximum increase.

As many as 24.9 lakh first time voters will exercise their franchise in this election. With the polls being announced, the Model Code of Conduct also comes into force.

UNI AO RJ

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