The Election Commission of India has announced the poll dates for four states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, and Assam as well as for the Union Territory of Puducherry.
When will elections be held?
Elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the union territory of Puducherry will be held in a single phase on April 6. Elections in Puducherry were due in April-May. Assam will have a three-phase election- one on March 27, and the rest on April 1 and 6.
Bengal, the most prestigious of all battles, will see an eight-phased election. The first phase will be held on March 27, the second on April 1, followed by the rest on April 6, 10, 17 22, 26, and 29.
Counting for all states will be held together on May 2.
Polls are to be held for 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 in Tamil Nadu, 140 in Kerala, 126 in Assam, and 30 Puducherry.
This will be the second major election to be held in the country post the pandemic. The first election was that of Bihar.
The election battle
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee faces a tough challenge from the BJP which has managed to poach several top leaders from the Trinamool Congress. Apart from anti-incumbency she also faces corruption charges against many of her party leaders. Earlier Mamata Banerjee had announced a hike in minimum wages for labour in West Bengal. The move is likely to benefit over 56,500 workers.
The BJP which won Assam for the first time in 2016 is also looking to return to power.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said nearly 18.68 crore electors will be voting at 2.7 lakh polling stations for 824 seats in the five state assembly elections. Arora at a press conference said voting will be allowed for an extra one hour in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said webcasting will also be provided at polling stations in critical and vulnerable areas.
The terms of the present assemblies of Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, and West Bengal come to an end in May and June 2021.
Puducherry is under the President’s Rule after the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government resigned earlier this week ahead of a vote of confidence.
Arora said the Assam assembly elections will be held keeping in mind the Rongali Bihu festival and CBSE board exams. COVID protocols will be followed in all state elections.
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