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Business News/ Elections / Lok Sabha elections: India to go to polls starting 19 April
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Lok Sabha elections: India to go to polls starting 19 April

Elections will be held in seven phases from 19 April to 1 June, with results on 4 June. Nearly 970 million votes will be cast to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar gestures during announcement of the schedule for General Elections 2024. (Photo: PTI)Premium
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar gestures during announcement of the schedule for General Elections 2024. (Photo: PTI)

India will conduct a seven-phase marathon election starting in April to elect members for the 18th Lok Sabha. The polling will commence on 19 April and continue until 1 June, with vote counting scheduled for 4 June, the chief election commissioner, Rajiv Kumar, said on Saturday. 

The subsequent phases will occur on 26 April; 7 May; 13 May; 20 May; 25 May; and 1 June.

Along with the dates for general elections, the poll panel also announced dates for assembly elections in four states - Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha. 

Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim will be held on 19 April, and in Andhra Pradesh on 13 May.

Elections to Odisha assembly will be held in two phases on 13 May and 20 May.

Nearly a billion Indians, approximately 970 million, will cast their votes over six weeks, the longest ever. The election commission will set up over a million polling stations, with 2,400 political parties likely to contest.

The tenure of the 17th Lok Sabha ends on 16 June 2024.

In 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 303 seats and its coalition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had secured 350 seats.

Conversely, the Indian National Congress had won only 52 seats, falling short of the required 10% to claim the Leader of the Opposition post, with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) secured 91 seats. The rest of the 98 seats went to other parties.

This time around, PM Modi has set a target of 370 seats for the BJP, and 400-plus for the NDA it heads in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

With the announcement of the election dates, the Model Code of Conduct is now in effect. Consequently, the government is prohibited from announcing any new projects or schemes. Any necessary announcements in the public interest must receive prior approval from the Election Commission.

In the previous assembly elections across 11 states, the Election Commission confiscated 3,400 crore. To prevent illicit methods of influencing voters, the Commission will use e-way bill analytics to detect any unusual demand spikes for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in specific areas. Additionally, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will scrutinize digital payment wallets for suspicious money distribution activities.

“We have made it clear to all political parties to not use children for campaigning purposes," Kumar said.

The Election Commission will likely deploy 340,000 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) personnel along with state police forces in the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections and the assembly polls in four states, according to reports.

In violence-hit Manipur, Lok Sabha elections will be conducted in two phases on 19 April and 26 April. The north-eastern state has two Lok Sabha seats - Inner Manipur and Outer Manipur.

"People living in camps in violence-hit Manipur will be allowed to vote from their camps in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections," Kumar said.

"We have drawn a scheme, which we have notified... to allow the voters in the camp to vote from the camp. Like there is a scheme for Jammu and Kashmir migrants…same way the scheme will implemented in Manipur. Voters will be allowed to vote from the respective camps…from the lower constituency to higher and higher to lower," Kumar said.

"My appeal to the voters is that let us decide through the ballot, peacefully by participating in the elections, we will make the arrangements," he added.

Ethnic clashes between the Meitei and tribal Kuki communities in Manipur, which have been ongoing since May of previous year, have resulted in over 200 deaths.

For assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Kumar said that these elections would be scheduled after the Lok Sabha elections due to a lack of available security personnel. This decision came in light of the need to deploy security forces across the seven-phase general elections starting 19 April.

Kumar acknowledged receiving requests from political parties in J&K to conduct assembly elections concurrently with the Lok Sabha polls. Nonetheless, security concerns have led to the postponement of the assembly elections until after the general elections.

After the delimitation, the J&K assembly now comprises 114 seats, an increase from 107. Each candidate is entitled to two security personnel during the election, necessitating an additional 450-500 companies of forces, a requirement deemed unfeasible given the current deployment for the Lok Sabha elections.

Since the BJP terminated its alliance with Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party in June 2018, Jammu and Kashmir have been under Governor's rule. Furthermore, following the revocation of Article 370 on 5 August 2019, the region was reconstituted as a union territory with a Vidhan Sabha. J&K is represented by five Lok Sabha seats: Baramulla, Srinagar, Anantnag, Udhampur, and Jammu.

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Published: 16 Mar 2024, 04:48 PM IST
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