Poll dates for Manipur, Punjab, Uttaranchal announced, suspense in UP
Source: The Sangai Express

New Delhi, December 29: The Election Commission today maintained suspense over the timing of Assembly polls in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh as it announced single phase Assembly polls in Punjab and Uttaranchal on February 13 and 21 respectively and a three-phased exercise in Manipur on February 8, 15 and 23."No decision has been taken about Uttar Pradesh as the term of the Assembly is upto May 14," Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy told reporters.

The Assembly polls in the three States would be followed by those in Uttar Pradesh, tiny Goa and towards the end of the year in BJP-ruled Gujarat.

An estimated 2.43 crore electorate are expected to exercise their franchise in the three States which are ruled by Congress.

"Some have also wanted that they should not be held early", the CEC shot back when asked why it did not go ahead with February polls for UP in view of demands by several parties that the exercise be held at the earliest.

A map of Manipur showing the three-phased exercise of the 9th Assembly to be held in the State from February 8, 15 and 23, 2007

The terms of the 60-member Manipur legislative Assembly is expiring on March 11, that of 70-member Uttaranchal on March 17 and 117-member Punjab on March 20.The Commission also decided to hold a bypoll to Amritsar Lok Sabha seat along with the Assembly polls there due to the vacancy caused by resignation of BJP member Navjot Sidhu in the wake of his conviction in a culpable homicide case.

The counting of votes in all the three States would take place on February 27, Gopalaswamy said.

The model code of conduct would come into force with immediate effect in all the three States, Gopalaswamy said detailing a series of dos and don'ts for the polls which would be conducted through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The CEC sidestepped questions whether "special measures" were needed in UP to ensure a free and fair polls in view of the apprehensions expressed by various political parties which have demanded imposition of President's rule.

"We will talk about UP when we will come to it", he merely said adding that the Commission would make assessment of how and when the elections could be held.

A terse "no comment" was his reaction when asked about the demand for imposition of President's rule in the State in view of law and order situation.

"We have nothing to do with President's Rule", he said.

He said that the Commission was able to remove so far 25 lakh names of dead voters and the "cleaning up operation has been reasonably successful".

Gopalaswamy said the date for final revision of electoral rolls in UP has been extended till January 15.The Central Para Military Forces and State Armed Police drawn from other States would be deployed during the polls in these States, he said adding the Commission would be monitoring the ground situation closely and would take appropriate measures to ensure peaceful, free and fair polls.

The CEC said that the EC expected all officials engaged in the conduct of elections to discharge of their duties in an impartial manner without any fear.

Strict action would be taken against those officials who were found wanting on any account, he warned.

As per the schedule, in Manipur, the notifications would be issued on January 13, 20 and 27 respectively and the last date for making nominations is January 20, 27 and February three.

Scrutiny would be on January 22, 29 and February five and the last date for withdrawal of nominations on January 24, 31 and February seven.

In Punjab the notification would be issued on January 18.Last date for making nominations is January 25, scrutiny on January 27 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature January 29.In Uttaranchal, the notification would be issued on January 25.Last date for nominations is February one, scrutiny the following day.

Last date for withdrawal is on February five.

Our Staff Reporter adds from Imphal : In the first phase on February 8 the total number of Assembly Constituencies which will go to polls is 19 spread across Thoubal, Ukhrul and Senapati.

For the second phase elections will be held for 29 Assembly Constituencies across Imphal West, Imphal East and Bishnupur while in the third phase the number of Assembly Constituencies that will go to polls is 12 at Chandel, Churachandpur, Tamenglong and Jiribam subdivision.

For the election, the State Government is planning to depute 11 thousand polling personnel and a team from the ECI led by the Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalswami is scheduled to arrive at Imphal on January 2.Speaking to The Sangai Express an official source said that the 11 thousand polling personnel will be pressed into service at 2053 polling stations spread across the State.

However the number of the election observers to be detailed for duty is yet to be worked out.

The ECI team to be led by the Chief Election Commissioner will include the other two members Navin B Chawla and Dr SY Qoraishi.

The ECI team which will arrive on January 2 will take stock of the preparations being taken up for the election.

Union Home Secretary VK Duggal is also expected to arrive here on January 3.On the other hand, the Centre is yet to give a definite answer to the request of the State Government to deploy Central para-military force in the hill districts during the election.

The response of the Union Home Ministry will depend on the availability of security force.

The State Government had also requisitioned the service of 1000 companies of security force.

Five helicopters are also expected to be used for the election.

The final electoral roll publication has been fixed on January 3.