March 2019 News

Lok Sabha Polls On Course, J&K Assembly Polls Deferred For Security Reasons

10 March 2019

Srinagar: Calls from almost all J&K's main political parties to hold state assembly elections along with Lok Sabha elections were not heeded by the Election Commission of India (ECI), which announced on Sunday a seven-phase schedule of Parliament elections beginning April 11 with counting of votes on May 23, only after which will elections in J&K would be considered. Assembly polls in Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will be held simultaneously with Lok Sabha elections but not in Jammu and Kashmir due to security reasons, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said. Arora said the Election Commission decided to announce the schedule for only Lok Sabha polls in J&K and not for assembly elections due to inputs it had received from authorities regarding constraint of availability of central forces for enforcing security in the wake of recent violence. Even the parliamentary election for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat is going to be held in three phases, he said, underscoring the security challenge in the region. Lok Sabha elections in J&K will be held in five phases. In India, the elections will be held in seven phases. The first phase of voting will be held on April 11, second on April 18, third on April 23, fourth on April 29, fifth on May 6, sixth on May 12, and seventh on May 19. Counting of votes for all seven phases would be done on May 23. Arora said the model code of conduct would come into immediate effect from Sunday and 10 lakh polling stations would be set up this time as against about nine lakhs in 2014. Nearly 90 crore voters would be eligible to vote for 543 Lok Sabha constituencies across the country. Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) will be used in all polling stations this time, Arora said. In the first phase, 91 constituencies will to go for polls, 97 constituencies in the second phase, 115 constituencies in the third, 71 in fourth phase, 51 in fifth phase, 59 in sixth, and 59 in the seventh phase. Arora said all political advertisements on social media will need pre-certification. In 2014, when the BJP swept to power, Lok Sabha elections were held across nine phases beginning April 7 and ending May 9. The counting of votes had taken place on May 16. A total of over 55 crore voters (66.3 per cent) exercised their vote, while there were 9.27 lakh polling stations. There were nearly 60 lakh NOTA votes. Out of total 543 elected candidates, only 62 were women from 668 who had contested.