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The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday in a press conference announced Assembly elections in five states-- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur to be held in seven phases through early 2022. 

Assembly elections will be held for 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, 117 in Punjab, 70 in Uttarakhand 60 in Manipur and 40 in Goa. 

The voting in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa assembly elections will be held in single phase on 14 February.

The Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections will be held in two phases on 10 and 14 February. 

Assembly elections in Manipur will be held in two phases on 27 February and 3 March.

The counting of votes will take place on 10 March. 

 The elections are set to be held in all five states amid a massive spike in Covid cases nationally fueled by the Omicron variant.

The Election Commission warned that any violation of model code of conduct, coming into effect with announcement of election schedule, will be strictly dealt with. CEC Sushil Chandra also mentioned that polling stations lower than earlier years or below average voting percentage should take corrective measures.

Chandra said that all polling stations will be equipped with Covid-mitigation facilities including sanitizers and masks.

Keeping in mind the surge in Covid cases and the potential threat of mass gatherings the number of booths have been increased, the CEC informed. 

CEC Sushil Chandra at press conference mentioned that the election commision had tried to bring into effect a comprehensive plan of action to ensure inducement-free elections

Here are ten points to this big story

-All parties, candidates have been instructed to ensure strong checks against hate speech, fake news. Strict vigil of social media platforms was also announced

-  The election commission banned any kind of physical rallies till 15 January. Political parties and candidates advised to conduct their election campaign in digital or virtual modes. The agency also said that roadshows, car/cycle/bike rallies, procession will not be allowed till 15 January

- A maximum of five persons will be allowed for door-to-door election campaign by candidates

- Victory procession post-results has been banned. Physical rallies during campaign, if allowed, must follow Covid-19 guidelines

-Opinion of health experts taken to ensure Covid-safe elections; Polling time in all five states to be increased by one hour. The agency requested a timely review of the Covid situation of the country

-More than 15 crore voters in five poll-bound states got first dose, over 9 crore both doses, the election Commission mentioned. 

-All personnel on election duty will be doubly-vaccinated and also eligible for precautionary third dose to ensure Covid-safe polls

-In a first, the Election commission also mentioned that at least one polling booth in each assembly constituency will be exclusively managed by women personnel to encourage women voters

-Strict action will be taken against those violating Covid guidelines, including restrictions on physical events

-Election expenditure limits for candidates increased in view of digital modes of campaign by the ECI. 

 

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