New Delhi: The Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and continue for over a month till May 19 across seven phases, followed by counting of votes on May 23, the Election Commission announced on Sunday, kick-starting a mega electoral battle where the BJP will pitch for a re-election of the Narendra Modi government amid the opposition’s efforts for a united fight to unseat it.
The polling will be held on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19 for 543 Lok Sabha seats across the country in which nearly 90 crore voters would be eligible to vote, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told a packed press conference here.
Assembly elections will also be held in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls, the CEC said.
Elections for Jammu and Kashmir assembly have been deferred, the EC said citing security reasons.
The state has been under President’s Rule after the ruling alliance between the BJP and People’s Democratic Party fell apart last year.
National Conference, Congress and other opposition parties slammed the decision to not hold assembly polls in J&K, while opposition leaders elsewhere, including in West Bengal latched onto the EC decision to hold multi-phase elections in their states to slam the government on law and order.
Polling for parliamentary and assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal and Sikkim will be held in the first phase on April 11. Parliamentary and assembly polls will be held in Odisha across the first four phases.
The Chief Election Commissioner said the model code of conduct would come into immediate effect from Sunday.
Among other restrictions, the model code bars the government from announcing any policy move that may impact voters’ decision.
The EC said the ‘voter verifiable paper audit trail’ (VVPAT) will be used in all polling stations this time.
Ten lakhs polling stations would be set up this time as against about nine lakhs in 2014. EVMs and postal ballots will carry pictures of candidates.