The Election Commission of India, on Sunday, announced a seven phase poll schedule for the Lok Sabha elections, 2019. The Lok Sabha elections in Sikkim will be held in a single phase on April 11 on one seat and the legislative assembly elections to elect 32 members in Sikkim would be held simultaneously. The term of the Sikkim assembly ends on May 27, 2019.
The required electronic voting machines and paper trail machines are in place to be deployed in nearly 10 lakh polling stations across 543 Lok Sabha constituencies.
In 2014, the EC had announced the election schedule on March 5 and the nine-phase electoral exercise was spread across April and May. While the first phase polling was on April 7, the last phase was on May 12.
Opposition parties had been questioning the delay in announcing the poll dates, with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel asking the EC whether it was waiting for the Prime Minister's "official" travel programme "to conclude".
PM Narendra Modi has been making a quick dash to states, conducting election rallies as well as government functions ahead of the announcement. He inaugurated projects worth Rs. 59,000 crore this week across three states —Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Several other key ministers of the BJP were also busy with a string of inaugurations.
With the model code of conduct — a set of guidelines issued by the EC for the conduct of political parties and candidates when the electoral process is underway — coming into force, parties in power at the Centre and in states are barred from making any announcements that can impact poll outcome or disturb the level playing field.
The BJP on March 8 forged an alliance with opposition Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) to contest the coming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state.
The details of seat sharing between the two parties would be announced soon, 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.
"The two parties have decided to form an alliance for the upcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Sikkim," Nabin, who was present during the meeting between Golay and Madhav, said over phone from New Delhi.
Elections will be held simultaneously for the 32-member Assembly and the lone Lok Sabha seat in Sikkim later this year.
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.
List of 32 Assembly Constituencies in Sikkim
18. West Pendam
25. Upper Tadong
28. Upper Burtuk
29. Kabi Lungchuk
31. Lachen Mangan