Nov, Dec polls in four states, Delhi

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electionNov-Dec 2013

None of the above’ option to feature

The Election Commission on Friday announced the schedule of Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

These elections are being perceived as the ‘semifinal’ to the 2014 national polls.
Over 11.60 crore electorate in the four states and the NCT of Delhi are expected to cast votes in the Assembly polls between November 11 and December 4.

Chhattisgarh will go to polls in two phases on November 11 and 19, ostensibly due to requirement of large number of security personnel in districts affected by Maoists.

Polling in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will be held on November 25 and December 1 respectively. Mizoram and Delhi will go to polls on the same day — December 4. The outcome of the elections will be known on December 8 when the votes will be counted in all the four states and Delhi.

These are also the first polls after the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to provide the voters an option to reject candidates in the fray. The Election Commission is working out details and steps for introduction of NOTA (none of the above option in the EVMs) in the coming polls, said the CEC. He also said that the Chief Election Officers in the states have been directed to brief all the returning officers about the Supreme Court order that all columns in the nomination forms would have to be filled in by the candidates to avert rejections.

The stakes are high for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. While the BJP rules Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the party will try to wrest power from the Congress in Delhi and Rajasthan. The Congress is also in power in Mizoram, where its main challenger is the regional Mizo National Front.

The polls are going to be the first electoral showdown between the Congress and the BJP, after the saffron party projected Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

These are also the first Assembly elections after Parliament passed the National Food Security Bill and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill. The Congress, which leads the ruling United Progressive Alliance at the Centre, is banking on the populist legislations to blunt the anti-incumbency wave.

“We are making every possible measure for maintaining law and order to ensure free and fair elections. We will take help of local police and paramilitary forces for ensuring this,” Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said, while announcing the poll schedules at a news conference in Delhi on Friday.

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