New Delhi: The announcement of the schedule for the 16th Lok Sabha elections is imminent.

An official from the Election Commission (EC) signalled as much last week saying that the polls “could be announced anytime" by the body.

In the past too, the May elections were announced around the same time. In 2009 it was announced on 2 March; in 2004, a leap year, it was announced on 29 February.

Coincidentally, the EC released data last week analysing India’s growing electorate which as of 14 February stands at 815 million registered voters. The figure far surpasses the 2009 electorate of 716.9 million.

The poll watchdog has itself been gearing up for the crucial general elections. While on 4 February it held an all-party meeting to discuss the polls, it held another round of consultations with state representatives such as chief secretaries and police officers on 20 February.

The last session of the 15th Lok Sabha ended on Friday.

This is also set to be the first election in India ever where the manifesto—a statement of promises made by political parties—will come under the model code of conduct. The EC announced on Friday that desisting from making announcements that “exert undue influence on voters in exercising their franchise", will now be binding on all contestants in any general or assembly election.

Political parties have already geared up for the announcement, and the polls, with all major parties already holding election rallies and deliberating alliances.

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