22 Feb 2021: Poll dates for states may be declared by March 7
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hinted that the Election Commission of India (EC) may declare the Assembly election schedule for five poll-bound states and Union Territories in the first week of March.
Elections are due to be held in four states - Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal - and the Union Territory of Puducherry this summer.
Here are more details on this.
Details: I assume EC will announce dates by March 7: PM
Addressing a public meeting at Silapathar in Assam's Dhemaji district, PM Modi said, "Last time in 2016, the Assembly poll dates were announced on March 4. This year, it is my assumption that EC will announce the dates for Assembly Polls by March 7."
The polls in the said states and UT are expected to be held in April and May.
Fact: Will visit these states as much as possible, says PM
"It is up to them (EC) to announce the dates but till the announcement is made, I will visit Assam, West Bengal, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala as much as I can," PM Modi further said in his speech.
Preparation: In January, EC officials had visited West Bengal
In January, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora along with other EC officials had visited West Bengal and held a meeting with top bureaucrats and leaders of all political parties in the state to discuss their preparedness and listen to their grievances or suggestions in connection with the upcoming polls.
Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajeev Kumar had also reportedly accompanied Arora at the time.
Suggestions: EC suggests increase in security, number of booths
Sensing law and order issues, the EC has suggested to increase the presence of paramilitary forces during the upcoming polls.
It also sought a report on existing movable and non-movable infrastructure in order to hold free and fair elections.
Further, the EC officials suggested that there should be more booths as compared to the previous Assembly polls to facilitate better management of the polls.
Other details: Single-phase elections in TN, Kerala, Puducherry: Report
Earlier this month, India Today had reported that three of the said states - Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry - would witness a single-phase election.
Meanwhile, West Bengal may vote in six to eight phases and Assam in two to three phases.
However, counting of votes will take place on the same day for all these states, the report added.
Statement: Police forces routinely sent to all poll-bound states, clarifies EC
After reports surfaced that Central Police Forces (CPFs) were sent specifically to West Bengal, the EC clarified the forces are routinely sent to states and UTs where elections are due to be held.
"CPFs are routinely sent to all the States and Union Territories where Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections are to take place (sic)," the EC said in a statement on Monday.