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Election Commission declares dates for UP, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand polls

The Election Commission is likely to announce the polling dates for five states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa – on Wednesday at 12 pm. The poll watchdog on Tuesday met with the Chief Electoral Officers of all the poll-bound states to fine tune election arrangements. The EC last week had also asked the five poll-bound states to brace up for the elections and had urged strict adherence to the Model Code of Conduct that would come into force immediately after the announcement of polls.

The terms of the legislative assemblies of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur are ending in mid-March, while the Uttar Pradesh assembly’s term would expire in May.

As per the law, elections to the legislative assembly of a state must be held – and new assembly formed – well before its term expires.

The law and order situation in Manipur due to road blockade by some Naga groups was the focus of attention of the Commission in the meeting. At the meeting, the assessment of the law and order situation, deployment of polling personnel, safety and electronic voting machines and strict implementation of the model code of conduct also came up for discussion

In its report to the EC, the Union Home Ministry has conveyed that ground situation in Manipur following the blockade of National Highway 2 by United Naga Council and the state government’s alleged “failure” to resume normal traffic even after 60 days.

“In the report, the Home Ministry told to EC about the ongoing tension and grave situation prevailing in Manipur. The EC may independently make an assessment of the situation so that election can be conducted properly,” a top Home Ministry official had told on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry will provide around 85,000 security personnel for deployment in the upcoming assembly elections in the five states.

At a high-level meeting with the Election Commission yesterday, top officials of the Ministry led by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi conveyed that it would provide around 750 companies of paramilitary forces for smooth conduct of the election process in the five states.
In addition, around 100 companies, most of which belong to State Armed Police Forces and India Reserve Battalions, will also be drawn from different states for deployment of election duties.
A company of paramilitary force comprises of around 100 personnel.
As of now, the Commission plans to hold seven-phased assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and single-phased in the other states. But with situation in Manipur assuming alarming proportions, the poll body may go for multiple phases in the North Eastern state. But there is no official word on it.

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