Guwahati, Wednesday, March 2, 2011
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Two-phase polls in State on April 4 & 11
Kalyan Barooah
 NEW DELHI, March 1 – Assam will have two-phase polls on April 4 and 11, when elections to all the 126 Legislative Assembly constituencies (LACs) would be held. Counting of votes will take place on May 13. The model code of conduct has come into immediate effect.

Elections to all the five States of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry were announced by the Election Commission of India. West Bengal will have six-phase polls and this may be part of the reasons for the long interval of little over a month before the counting takes places in the other four States.

Both the ruling and Opposition parties heaved a sigh of relief over the decision to hold the Assembly polls in Assam before the Bihu festival. The State Government had requested two-phase polls and the Opposition AGP had called for three-phase elections. But both sides were one in demanding polls before the Bihu festival.

According to the election schedule drawn up by the EC, notification for polls in Assam will be issued on March 10 and March 18 respectively and last date of making nomination is March 17 in the first phase and March 25 for the second.

Scrutiny of nomination will be on March 18 (first Phase) and March 26 (second phase). The last dates of withdrawal have been fixed on March 21 (first phase) and March 28 (second phase).

The entire election process will be completed by May 18. Assam’s Assembly’s term comes to an end on May 28.

In the first phase, 62 Assembly constituencies will go to poll, while in the second phase 64 LACs will witness voting.

The election schedule was announced at a press conference jointly addressed by Chief Election Commissioner, Dr SY Quraishi and Commissioners VS Sampath and HS Brahma.

All the four States, barring Assam would use Electoral Photo Identity Cards and Photo Electoral Rolls to establish the identity of voters. In Assam, the EPIC programme could not be started due to various reasons, Dr Quraishi said. “In case of Assam, there are only text-rolls and no photo electoral rolls,” he said

In order to ensure that no voter is deprived of his or her franchise, separate instructions would be issued to allow additional documents for identification of voters. Assam has 1.82 crore voters (1, 81, 45,914) and rolls were published on January 5. Assam has 23813 polling stations.

In Assam though, where EPIC would not be used, those manning the booths who would be local officials would assist in establishing the identity of voters, and several documents would be accepted for identification purposes, said the CEC.

On the ‘D’ category voters, the CEC said that the foreigner tribunals were the right authority to decide on the cases and any verdict of the tribunals would be acceptable to the Commission. The ‘D’ category voters would be accepted, as soon as the tribunal takes a decision.

The CEC said that based on the assessment of the ground situation, the Central Police Forces and State Armed Police drawn from other States would be deployed.

The Commission would deploy general observers including expenditure and assistant expenditure observers, in adequate numbers.

The model code of conduct would apply to whole of Assam and other four States and would be applicable to all candidates, political parties, the State Governments from today itself, said the CEC.

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