The poll bugle for 2019 has been sounded. India will go to polls from April 11, said the Election Commission of India on Sunday, announcing the schedule for the 17th Lok Sabha polls. The counting of votes will be held on May 23, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said.
In one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world, the polling for General Elections in India will take place in 7 phases. Following is the schedule:
The Election Commission also announced the schedule for the Assembly Elections of four states: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim. The Assembly Elections in these states will be held simultaneously, along with the Lok Sabha elections.
The 2019 General Elections will be held for 543 seats of the Lok Sabha, in approximately 10 lakh polling stations. "The number of voters has gone up to 900 million from 814.5 million last elections. Of this, 15 million voters are in the 18-19 age group," the CEC said.
The current Lok Sabha term will end on June 3.
With the announcement of the election dates, the model code of conduct (MCC), too, has come into force. The MCC bars the government from announcing major policy decisions. "Any violation will be dealt with in the strictest manner, " the CEC added.
Additionally, election rallies and road shows must not hinder the road traffic and the ruling party must not use its seat of power for any campaign purposes, among others.
The Election Commission on Saturday asked political parties to refrain from using photographs of defence personnel in their poll campaigns. This came after a picture of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman featured in a political poster and was being circulated on social media.
2019 is likely to be Narendra Modi versus the rest as several opposition parties spearheaded by the Congress come together to deny the BJP a second consecutive term. The BJP has continued to project Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate and formed alliances with regional parties to create inroads in southern states, such as the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. However, parties including the Trinamool Congress, the DMK, RJD, JD(S), NCP and others have joined hands with the Congress to form the 'Mahagathbandhan'.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, the BJP became the first party in 30 years to win a majority on its own. Led by Narendra Modi, the BJP won 282 seats, 10 more than the magic figure of 272. With its NDA allies, this figure went up to 336 seats. The Congress, however, managed to win only 44 seats.
The statewise election dates are: