New Delhi: The countdown for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has begun. The polls will be held between April 7 and May 12 in nine phases, said the Elections Commission on Wednesday. The counting of votes will be held on May 16. This is the first time that voting will take place in nine phases in the country.
The first phase of polling will take place on April 7, covering 2 states and 6 constituencies, second phase on April 9, covering 5 states and 7 constituencies, third phase on April 10, covering 14 states and 92 constituencies, fourth phase on April 12, covering 3 states and 5 constituencies, fifth on April 17, covering 13 states and UTs and 122 constituencies, sixth phase on April 24, covering 12 states and 117 constituencies, seventh phase on April 30, covering 9 states and 89 constituencies, eighth phase on May 7, covering 7 states and 64 constituencies and ninth phase on May 12, covering 3 states and 41 constituencies.
With the announcement of poll dates, the Model Code of Conduct for governments and political parties comes into force with immediate effect. Therefore, once elections are announced, the Cabinet will no longer be able to take key decisions.
The schedule was announced at a press conference by Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath along with two Election Commissioners HS Brahma and SNA Zaidi. Sampath said the dates have been decided keeping in view certain factors.
“The parties brought to our notice a wide range of issues pertaining to security, revising the ceiling of poll expenditure, keeping the regional cultures and festivals in view while deciding dates,” Sampath said.
The term of the current Lok Sabha expires on June 1 and the new House has to be constituted by May 31. Along with the Lok Sabha election, Andhra Pradesh, including the regions comprising Telangana, Odisha and Sikkim will go to polls to elect new assemblies. AP, Odisha and Sikkim assemblies come to end on June 2, June 7 and May 7 respectively.
An estimated 81.4 crore voters will be eligible to vote in the coming elections after 9.71 crore new voters have been added to the rolls since the last elections. From the coming elections, candidates in a Parliamentary constituency in bigger states can spend up to Rs 70 lakh on their campaign, up from Rs 40 lakh in 2011. In the 2009 elections, it was Rs 25 lakh.
The 2014 Lok Sabha elections will see the introduction of “None of the Above” (NOTA) option in voting, which came into vogue in the assembly elections a few months ago.
The 2009 polls were held in five phases from April 16 to May 13.