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The Election Commission of India (EC) has put poll-bound states Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur at the ready, warning that the Model Code of Conduct — which heralds the start of the election process along with the announcement of important dates — would be declared any time now.

Meanwhile, EC sources have been quoted as saying that voting for the 403-seat UP Assembly will take place in seven phases, from early February to mid-March. If this is the case, it would clash with the state board examinations, which are taking place from February 16 to March 20

EC issues notification

The poll panel has issued a 33-page letter, consisting of various annexures, "in view of the impending general elections to the Legislative Assemblies of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand," to the state election commissions asking them to pay heed to the modified and updated rules that come into effect when the poll code comes into effect.

The enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct happens when the EC declares the important dates in the polling process, including the date for polling and that of counting. Once that happens, political parties will not be allowed to do a number of things until the poll is over, like putting up hoardings on or near polling booths, or advertise their leaders through the government machinery.

Seven phases of UP polls

Meanwhile, election to the 403-member UP polls is expected to take place in seven phases, because of the large area that is to be covered. According to New Indian Express, the elections may actually take place from February 7 till the middle of March. The report also said that the Model Code of Conduct may come into force in all the states from January 4.

It now remains to be seen how the poll panel conducts this huge polling exercise across the five states.