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

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

Shafiq Mitul | Delhi | February 26, 2021

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday announced the poll schedule for the assemblies of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora, at a press conference held in the national capital today (February 26), said, “All five assembly elections, to start on March 27, will be completed in the coming two months, and the results of all the elections will be known on May 2.”

“Critical and vulnerable voting booths are identified already. Special observers and adequate Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel will be deployed in all states to ensure free and fair polls”, he added. 

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora announces election dates for five states/UTs at a press conference in New Delhi on February 26 2021 | Photo- Election Commission of India

Key election guidelines to be followed:

  • Door to door campaign to be restricted to 5 persons
  • Roadshows allowed
  • Separate norms for suspected Covid-19 patients
  • Polling officials to be vaccinated

West Bengal will see an eight-phase election, beginning on March 27 and ending on April 29, while Assam will be voting in three phases – March 27, April 1, and 6.

“ECI will appoint two special observers for the West Bengal polls and a third observer can be sent if needed,” CEC Sunil Arora said at the press conference.

Assembly elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry will be held in a single phase on April 6.

By-Elections:

Election to the vacant Lok Sabha seat of Malappuram Constituency in Kerala and Kanniyakumari in Tamil Nadu will be held on April 6, 2021, along with the Assembly Elections.

Karnataka will witness by-elections in two Assembly constituencies – Maski and Basavakalyan – and a Lok Sabha seat – Belgavi – on April 17.

The results of the by-poll seats will be declared on May 2.

“COVID-19 guidelines will be followed in the elections”: CEC

Among some key points announced by the CEC regarding COVID-19 guidelines were: the extension of voting time by one hour like in the Bihar polls, candidates to file nominations online, door-to-door campaigning being restricted to five people, and the allowing of roadshows but maintaining social distancing.

“We permitted postal ballots for sick, senior citizens and essential employees”, CEC Sunil Arora said.

Mentioning Bihar elections during the pandemic as a “watershed moment” for the Election Commission, CEC Arora said, “It was indeed a watershed moment for ECI. It proved to be a litmus test but the electorate of the state reposed faith in us.”

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who is set to retire from his post on April 13, said, “As many as 18.68 crore electors will cast vote at 2.7 lakh polling stations in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.”

“This will be the last set of elections during my tenure before I demit office,” he added.