The Election Commission (EC) of India is expected to announce the dates of the Assembly polls in five states — Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand — at a press conference scheduled to be held at noon on Wednesday. Chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi is expected to announce a list of dates including the last date of filing nominations, when each state will vote and the day of counting.
The EC held a meeting with the chief electoral officers of each of the five states going to polls to fine tune the arrangements. It is likely to hold a seven-phase poll in Uttar Pradesh and a single-phase poll in the four other states, the Indian Express reported. However, the EC may decide to go for multiple phases in Manipur considering the law and order situation due to the on-going blockade by some Naga groups in the state.
The Union Home Ministry also submitted a report to the EC, in which it mentioned details about the ground situation in Manipur following the United Naga Council blocking National Highway 37. It also pointed out the Manipur government's alleged "failure" to resume normal traffic in the state even after two months of unrest.
"In the report, the Home Ministry told the EC about the ongoing tension and grave situation prevailing in Manipur. The EC may independently make an assessment of the situation so that election can be conducted properly," a top Home Ministry official told the Press Trust of India (PTI).
The EC discussed the law and order situation in states, deployment of polling personnel, safety and electronic voting machines and strict implementation of the model code of conduct at the meeting with the chief electoral officers.
The EC had also written to the state government and education boards in December 2015, to decide the exam schedules after consulting with the EC. The legislative terms of Goa, Manipur and Punjab will expire on March 18, while that of Uttarakhand will expire on March 26 and Uttar Pradesh on May 27.
Security arrangements for the upcoming polls
The Union Home Ministry will deploy around 85,000 security personnel in the five states for the upcoming assembly polls. Aroud 100 companies, mostly belonging to the State Armed Police Forces and the India Reserve Battalions, will be drawn from different states and be deployed in the five states about to go to polls.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, along with senior officials of the Home Ministry, conveyed to the EC at the meeting that around 750 companies of paramilitary forces would be deployed for the election process to be carried out without difficulty.
The model code of conduct will come into effect immediately after the press conference, the Indian Express reported.