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EC announces poll dates for W Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Election Commission of India on Friday announced the election dates for five states – Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry during a press conference at 4.30 pm in Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan. The states are due for elections in April-May.

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Polls to the legislative assemblies are to be held for 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 140 seats in Kerala, 126 seats in Assam and 30 seats in Puducherry. As per sources, the elections in W. Bengal are likely to be held in 7-8 phases, while three-phase elections may take place in Assam. While, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will see single phase polls, whereas in Kerala, the election may be held in one or two phases.

Leaders from different political parties including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP national president JP Nadda, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have already started election campaigning in the four states and one Union Territory (Puducherry).

The four states and the union territory are set to go to polls in April-May this year as the terms of the five legislative assemblies come to an end. The EC held a meeting on Wednesday to finalise the dates of the upcoming Assembly elections in these states and the union territory.

Here are the scheduled elections dates rolled out by EC:-

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West Bengal: Elections in 8 phases

First phase: March 27
Second phase: April 1
Third phase: April 6
Fourth phase: Arpil 10
Fifth phase: April 17
Sixth phase: April 22
Seventh phase: April 26
Eighth phase: April 29

Date of counting: May 2

Puducherry single phase:

Date of polling: April 6

Date of Counting- May 2

Tamil Nadu single phase:

Date of polling: April 6

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Date of counting: May 2

Kerala single phase:

Date of elections: April 6

Date of Counting- May 2

Elections in three phases in Assam:

first phase- elections on 27 March
second phase- elections on April 1
third phase- elections on April 6

Date of Counting- May 2

This is the first major set of elections to be held in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic after the Bihar election. Polls will be held for 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 140 seats in Kerala, 126 seats in Assam and 30 seats in Puducherry.

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Bengal will be the most high-stakes battle between chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s TMC and the BJP, which has been making inroads into the state, and has already started a high-pitched campaign in the state and inducted several Trinamool Congress leaders to its state unit to dislodge Banerjee.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Election Commission will likely hold elections in West Bengal in seven-eight phases. In 2016, elections were held in six phases from April 4-May 5. The BJP is also campaigning aggressively to retain power in Assam, where it won for the first time in 2016, beating the Congress.

The Election Commission of India is also concerned about the increasing Covid-19 cases in Kerala. Generally, Kerala is a single-phase poll-going state. However, in the context of Covid-19 cases in the state, the EC may decide to conduct multi-phase elections.

In Tamil Nadu, the battle will be between the two mainstays of the state’s politics – the ruling AIADMK and the DMK – while Sasikala and Kamal Haasan may be the X-factor, in the first election without the state’s iconic leaders Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi. In Tamil Nadu, the opposition alliance led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is taking on the incumbent All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) which has joined hands with the BJP.

In Puducherry, President’s Rule has been imposed and the assembly kept under suspended animation after the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government resigned earlier this week ahead of a vote of confidence. The Congress had only won in the UT in the last round of polls in these states in 2016 but lost power after a string of resignations.

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