Election Commission To Announce Lok Sabha Poll Schedule At 5 p.m. On March 10 
Voters display their inked fingers for a photograph after casting their votes at a polling station in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Election Commission To Announce Lok Sabha Poll Schedule At 5 p.m. On March 10 

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The Election Commission is set to announce on Sunday schedule for the Lok Sabha elections, which is likely to be spread over seven to eight phases in April-May.

The poll panel will hold a press conference at 5 p.m. at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.

The term of the present Lok Sabha ends on June 3.

As soon as the elections, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make his bid to return to power amid hectic parleys by several political parties to put a united fight against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, are announced, the model code of conduct will come into force.

Amongst other things, the code bars the government from announcing policy decisions.

Also read: Lok Sabha Polls: How EC Hosts World’s Largest Display of Democracy

Assembly Elections Schedule

The notification for the first phase could be issued by the end of March, for voting sometime in early April, sources suggested.

There is a strong possibility that the EC may go by the precedent and hold assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh along with the Lok Sabha polls.

Also read: Move Election Commission On Linking Of Voter ID Cards With Aadhaar, Supreme Court Tells Petitioner

Jammu & Kashmir Assembly Election Uncertainty

Since the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has been dissolved, the EC is bound to hold fresh polls there as well within a six-month period, which will end in May.

While there is a view that the J&K assembly elections can be held along with the Lok Sabha polls, a lot depends on the security situation in the state given the heightened tension along the India-Pakistan border.

The Centre and the state administration, being managed by the Centre-appointed Governor, are against holding the two elections together.

However, all political parties in the state favoured simultaneous polls during a meeting with the poll panel earlier this week.

The J&K Assembly's six-year term was to end on March 16, 2021, but it got dissolved after a ruling coalition between the People's Democratic Party and the BJP fell apart.

The other state assemblies and the Lok Sabha have five-year terms.

Also read: Have Balakot Strikes Improved Modi’s Chances Of A Second Term?

Seven To Eight Phases?

The required electronic voting machines and paper trail machines are in place to be deployed in nearly 10 lakh polling stations across 543 Lok Sabha constituencies.

There is a high probability of the elections being spread across seven to eight phases this time.

In 2014, the EC had announced the election schedule on March 5, and the nine-phase electoral exercise was spread across April and May.

While the first phase of polling was on April 7, the last phase was on May 12.

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