New Delhi – Setting the stage for the high-stakes battle between TRS and the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year, the Election Commission on Saturday announced the schedule for the Assembly elections for Telangana on December 7. The EC has also notified the schedule for Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh along with Telangana. Counting of votes in all the states will be done on December 11, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said announcing the schedule at a press conference here.
Voting will be held in a single phase in Telangana and Rajasthan on December 7, and Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram on November 28, Rawat said, adding that Chhattisgarh will vote in two phases on November 12 and November 20. The BJP and the Congress will face head on in Madhya Pradesh (230 seats), Rajasthan (200) and Chhattisgarh (90), where the saffron is in power while in Telangana (119) the TRS is seeking a second term. In Mizoram (40) the Congress is the ruling party. The BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for three consecutive terms while in Rajasthan power alternates between the two parties every election.
The Model Code of Conduct comes into force with immediate effect in four states while in Telangana it was in force from the date of dissolution of the Assembly last month. Notification for the first phase will be issued on October 16 and the last date for nominations would be October 23. Scrutiny will take place next day and the last date for the withdrawal of the nominations will be October 26. The notification for the elections in the rest of the 72 constituencies in the second phase would be issued on October 26, while the last day for nominations would be November 2. Scrutiny will be done on November 3 and the last date for the withdrawal of the nominations will be November 5. The tenure of the Chhattisgarh Assembly comes to an end on January 5, 2019.
In Telangana and Rajasthan, which will go to the polls in a single phase on December 7, the notification will be issued on November 12 and the last date for filing nominations will be November 19. Scrutiny will take place on November 20 while the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be November 22. The term of the Rajasthan Assembly expires on January 20, 2019. Telangana Chief Minister and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao dissolved the House last month — nearly nine months before its term was to end.
The TRS is ahead of all parties with regard to election preparedness by announcing 105 candidates out of the total 119 seats in Telangana. The announcement of the candidates for the rest of the 14 constituencies will happen very soon, according to party sources. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has already launched electioneering in the state. In Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram, the notification will be issued on November 2 while the last date for nominations would be November 9. Scrutiny will be done on November 12 and last date of withdrawal will be November 14. While the term of the Assembly in Madhya Pradesh expires on January 7, the tenure 40-member Assembly in Mizoram expires on December 15.
In Chhattisgarh, where the Commission decided to go for two phases in view of the Maoist problem, voting will be held in the most affected areas of the 18 constituencies in the southern part on November 12 and in the remaining 72 seats, voting will take place on November 20. Asked about the criticism over rescheduling the time of the press conference from 12.30 pm to 3 pm and that it was done under pressure from Prime Minister to accommodate his election rally in Ajmer in Rajasthan, Rawat said there was no pressure from anywhere.
“There would not have been a delay of two-three hours but for the problem relating to electoral rolls in Telangana,” he said and added parties were free to complain to the Commission if somebody got a concession. “It is the duty of the Commission to satisfy all the stakeholders. We will hold free, fair and credible elections which is our commitment and compulsion,” he said. He said the existing electoral rolls in the all the states have been revised with reference to January 1, 2018 as the qualifying date. The CEC said the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) will be used in the current round of elections for which arrangements have been made to ensure their adequate number.