Poll bugle sounded: Battle to rule five states begins Feb 4

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa will elect new governments in staggered polls from February 4 to March 8 in the biggest popularity test since the Lok Sabha polls of 2014.
The results from all the states will be known on March 11, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said on Wednesday while unveiling a slew of new election-related rules.
The over month-long exercise will involve 16 crore voters spread over 690 assembly seats, 403 of them alone in Uttar Pradesh, where an election victory will be crucial to the BJP ahead of the 2019 general elections.
While polling in Goa and Punjab will take place on February 4, Uttarakhand will vote on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and 8.
Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, will go to the polls in seven phases: February 11 (73 seats), 15 (67 seats), 19 (69 seats), 23 (53 seats) and 27 (52 seats) and March 4 (49 seats) and 8 (40 seats).
Goa has 40 seats, Punjab 117, Manipur 60 and Uttarakhand has 70 seats.
The poll panel also set the maximum limit for poll expenses for each candidate in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand at Rs 28 lakh, while in Goa and Manipur it is Rs 20 lakh.
TV channels owned by political parties or candidates will be monitored and the Press Council of India will help the panel in detecting paid news.
For the first time, there will be separate polling stations for women and photographs of the candidates will figure on the electronic voting machines.
The poll panel would also insist on a certificate from candidates to show they owe no arrears to any government department vis-a-vis utilities bills and rent on official accommodation.
The announcement came a day after the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) recommended holding the first half of the Budget session from January 31 to February 9. (IANS)