NEW DELHI (TIP): The Election Commission on January 4 (Wednesday) announced the poll dates for Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said that the state of Manipur will have a two-phase election and Uttar Pradesh will have a seven-phase election. Counting for all states will be held on 11 March.
A total of 690 assembly constituencies will go to polls in these elections. Twenty three of these have been reserved from Scheduled Tribes candidates. Over 160 million voters – that’s the size of the electorate in these assembly elections. There will be 1,85,000 polling stations across five states.
Seven-phase elections in Uttar Pradesh from February 11 to March 8; Punjab and Goa will vote on February 4 while Uttarakhand on Feb 15; results on March 11
NEW DELHI (TIP): Assembly elections in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur will be held between February 4 and March 8, the results of which — to be announced on March 11 — are likely to be seen as a referendum on the demonetisation move by PM Narendra Modi.
The terms of the legislative assembly of Goa, Manipur and Punjab are due to expire on March 18 while that of Uttarakhand expires on March 26. The legislative term of Uttar Pradesh ends on May 27. Goa has 40 assembly seats, Manipur has 60, Punjab has 117, Uttarakhand has 70 while Uttar Pradesh has 403.
Election Commission made the much-anticipated announcement of dates on January 4 (Wednesday), setting in motion a process that will impact Indian polity in the coming months. The UP polls are already being dubbed as a “semi-final” to the 2019 general elections. These polls are significant for BJP as a good electoral harvest will boost its strength in the Rajya Sabha in the near future. The outcome will also have a bearing on the Presidential elections later this year.
UP will have a seven phase election, with polling on February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8.
Manipur, which continues to be under a blockade and is facing law and order problems, will have a twophase election with polling on March 4 and 8.
Punjab and Goa will vote on February 4 while Uttarakhand on Feb 15. While the Code of Conduct has come into force with the announcement, the state-wise notification process will begin with Punjab and Goa on January 11.
Demonetisation is likely to be a big issue in these elections, though the polling pattern will be guided by local factors, caste equations and identity politics. With the Centre propagating a less-cash economy, the extent to which money power is at play in these polls will be keenly watched. One of the new rules of these elections allows parties to use cash for campaign payments only up to Rs 20,000.
Candidates will also have to take oath this time that they have no pending public utility bills. The SC order last week barring political parties and candidates from seeking votes in the name of religion or caste has also added to the worries of the contestants. While SP is seeking to retain power in UP and is facing a challenge from BJP and BSP, Congress is trying to beat anti-incumbency in Uttarakhand and Manipur. BJP is a part of the ruling coalition in Punjab and rules Goa. The caste-ridden politics of UP now has an added dimension with the feud in the first family of SP. CM Akhilesh Yadav is fighting over the symbol, bicycle, with his father and party patriarch Mulayam.
SAD-BJP combine, which has ruled Punjab for two consecutive terms, has not lost hope, especially if AAP makes it a triangular contest at the expense of Congress. AAP is also making things difficult for BJP and Congress in Goa.
BJP is still confident of retaining power. BJP is hopeful of defeating Congress in Uttarakhand while CM Harish Rawat is playing the victim card, citing the saffron party’s attempt to topple his government a few months ago. BJP is hopeful of defeating Congress in Manipur currently under Congress rule. Manipur has been facing an economic blockade on its two highways since November 1 over creation of seven new districts.