Bihar to hold 5-phase assembly elections: Polls to begin from Oct 12, Results on Nov 8
Elections will be conducted in five phases: Oct 12, Oct 16, Oct 28, Nov 1, Nov 5. Results will be announced on Nov 8. [Bihar Assembly Elections: Special Coverage]
The first phase of polls begin on October 12, the second phase of voting is on October 16, the third phase of ballotting is on October 28, the fourth phase is on November 1 while the fifth and the last phase is on November 5.
The date of notification for first phase of polls is Sept 16. Last date of making nominations is Sept 23. Date of scrutiny is Sept 24.
49 Constituencies will go to polls in Phase 1, 32 in Phase 2, 50 in Phase 3, 55 in Phase 4 and 57 in Phase 5.
Voting will take place across 62,779 polling stations, with the election process spread over three months apparently due to the festive season.
While announcing the election schedule, the poll watchdog said, "Around 6.6 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes."
"As per the law exit polls will be prohibited from first day of poll to last day of the last phase", the CEC said.
Zaidi, while briefing the media, said that this time there will be photographs of the candidates on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), in an attempt to reduce fake nominations.
"243 general observers and 38 police observers will be deployed for the elections. Two model polling stations will be deployed in each constituency", Zaidi said.
"Voter slips to be issued five days prior to poll date. VVPAT (voter verified paper audit trail) will be used in 36 constituencies", the CEC said.
"The EC is committed towards free, fair and peaceful elections. We have received more than adequate forces. Each polling booth will be manned by central police forces," Zaidi said.
"Model code of conduct will be in force with immediate effect", he said.
He said 47 of the 243 constituencies were affected by Left-wing extremism.
The election, which is expected to witness a keen contest between the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the combine of the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, will have some firsts, including photograph of candidate on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
"This is being done for the first time in an assembly poll. We received feedback about voters facing some confusion in case of presence of candidates having the same name," Zaidi said.
He said measures have been taken to check vehicles for any illicit flow of arms and liquor.
He said committees have been formed under the district magistrates for people to deposit their licensed weapons.
Zaidi said there was effective intelligence gathering and helicopters and motorboats will be used to keep vigil.
"Assessment (was being done) of all vulnerable points where anti-social elements can threaten voters," he said.
He said exit polls will be prohibited from the very first day of polling.
"As per law, exit poll will be prohibited from the first day of poll of the first phase till half an hour after the appointed time of the last polling day. This applies to both print and TV media," Zaidi said.
"Opinion poll under relevant law is prohibited in the last 48 hours for electronic media. Similarly, advertisements are also prohibited in the last 48 hours for the electronic media," he added.
He said Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will first be used in 36 constituencies spread over 34 districts.
"This scaling up is being done following the Supreme Court order where they have said that the commission will increase the use of VVPAT in stages," he added.
Zaidi said electors will have the option to press 'NOTA' (None of the Above) in the balloting unit below the name of the last candidate.
"The commission is taking steps to bring this to the knowledge of voters," he said.
Referring to the issue of paid news, Zaidi said a mechanism has been laid out with three-tier media certification and monitoring committees (MCMC) at the level of district, state and the Election Commission.
The notification for the first phase of poll will be issued on September 16 and the last date of filing nominations for this phase is September 23.
The second phase nominations will close on September 28, the third phase on October 8, the fourth phase on October 14 and the fifth phase on October 15.
The term of the present Bihar assembly ends on November 29.
Zaidi said the commission will follow a policy of zero tolerance and will take appropriate action if any member of the election machinery is found to be biased in the enforcing of the model code of conduct.
"The election commission will ensure a level-playing field for all political parties and candidates," he said.
The term of the 243-member Bihar Assembly comes to an end on November 29.
Read more about Bihar Assembly Elections 2015 here.