New Delhi: The Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections on April 11 in a single phase, the Election Commission (EC) announced on Sunday. Odisha will vote in the general elections in four phases from April 11 to April 29.
However, elections for the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, which was dissolved after the ruling coalition between the BJP and the PDP fell apart, will not be held along with the Lok Sabha polls due to security reasons, the EC said.
The term of the Andhra assembly comes to an end on June 18. Lok Sabha elections will also be held in the state the same day. The forthcoming election would be the first to be held after the bifurcation of the state, which has 175 assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha seats.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has been making a pitch for a second term. Naidu, who was an ally of the BJP, walked out of the tie-up last year alleging that the Narendra Modi-led government had failed to keep its promise of granting of special category status to the state.
Naidu, who is also seen as a key player in the opposition alliance on the national front, has made it clear that he would go to the elections in the state without any pre-poll deal. His main opposition in the state is YSR Congress Party chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. Calling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Telangana chief minister Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar the acting president of YSRCP, Naidu has said the elections in the state will be fought between the TDP and TRS.
The state recently faced data theft allegations with Naidu and his party blaming Reddy and KCR of conspiring against the TDP by breaching data of over three crore citizens. He also accused the Telangana Police of colluding with the KCR government.
The term of the Arunachal Pradesh assembly ends on June 1. Ruled by the BJP, the state only sends two MPs to the Lok Sabha which is split between the BJP and Congress, and the total number of seats equal 60. It was in December 2016 that BJP came to power after 33 of the 43 members of the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) joined the BJP.
The state has been on the edge considering the recent debate regarding Citizenship Amendment Bill. Last month, PM Modi had launched a slew of development projects worth Rs 4,000 crore in the state, claiming that the development trajectory of the state had gone up ever since the BJP came to power.
In the bypolls held in 2017, BJP wrested the Pakke-Kesang and Likabali constituencies from the Congress. The last time Congress got a majority in the state was in 2014, but the rebels in the party led to the fall of the government under Nabam Tuki. The 2014 elections were held in a single phase on April 9.
It is the only state in the north east that the BJP is not ruling, either independently or as part of an alliance. The term of the Sikkim Assembly ends on May 27.
With an assembly strength of 32, the state is currently led by chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) since 1994, making Chamling the longest serving chief minister in the country. Interestingly, the announcement of election dates comes two days after the BJP joined hands with PS Goley-led Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, which is the main opposition party in the state.
The details of seat sharing between the two parties would be announced soon, the BJP's Sikkim in-charge Nitin Nabin said. SKM president P S Golay and BJP's North-East in-charge Ram Madhav finalised the alliance in New Delhi, he said.
In the 2014 Assembly election, the SKM had won 10 seats but now it has only two MLAs in the House. Seven of the MLAs had defected to the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) in 2015, while Golay was disqualified from the membership of the Assembly in 2016, following his conviction for a year in a corruption case.
The state will vote in the general elections in four phases from April 11 to April 29. The incumbent Biju Janata Dal (BJD), BJP and Congress are the main contestants for polls in the state.
Soon after Election Commission’s announcement, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik tweeted: “I welcome Election Commission of India’s announcement for elections to #Odisha Assembly & Lok Sabha to be held on 11, 18, 23 & 29 April. Pleased to pledge wholehearted support for the electoral process that is the foundation of our democracy.” The state has 147 constituencies.