New Delhi, Sep 12 :
In the biggest electoral test after the Lok Sabha battle, Congress-ruled Haryana and Maharashtra will go to the polls Oct 15 and the results will be declared Oct 19.
Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said by-elections will also be held Oct 15 for the Lok Sabha seats of Beed (Maharashtra) and Kandhamal (Odisha) following death of incumbent MPs and the assembly seats of Kanubari (Arunachal Pradesh), Hiyanglam (Manipur), Northern Angami-II (Nagaland), Kairana (Uttar Pradesh) and Rajkot West (Gujarat).
Sampath said the poll panel was “watching closely” the situation in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir, and voting dates for Kashmir and Jharkhand would be announced later.
Sampath said the model code of conduct would come into immediate effect, involving both Haryana and Maharashtra governments as well as the central government vis-a-vis decisions linked to the two states.
Asked about the Narendra Modi’s governments announcements regarding its 100 days in office, he said the government was free to go ahead with it as long as the election-bound states were kept out.
The last day for filing nominations is Sep 27, and candidates can withdraw from the contest by Oct 1.
Haryana will have 16,244 polling stations and Maharashtra 90,403.
Haryana has 90 assembly seats and Maharashtra 288. Ever since Modi led it to a sweeping win in the Lok Sabha, leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party have vowed to seize power in Haryana and Maharashtra.
In the Lok Sabha elections, BJP bagged seven seats of the 10 parliamentary seats in Haryana. The Congress got only one. Out of Maharashtra’s 48 seats, the saffron party won 23, while its ally Shiv Sena bagged 18. The Congress could get only two seats, while its ally the Nationalist Congress Party bagged four seats.
In both states, the BJP is already flexing its muscles. The BJP has dumped its Lok Sabha ally, the Haryana Janhit Congress. Its leaders in Maharashtra do not want to play second fiddle any more to the Shiv Sena.
The BJP is keen to unseat the Congress in both the states to overcome the embarrassing setbacks it has faced in by-elections in some states since the Lok Sabha victory.
Sampath put the number of voters in Haryana at 16 million and in Maharashtra at 82 million. He promised to ensure free and fair polls apart from creating a proper atmosphere for the conduct of the elections.
The poll panel chief had a word of caution for officials who will be involved in the electoral process.
“The (Election) Commission expects all officials engaged in the conduct of elections to discharge their duties in an impartial manner without any fear or favour,” he said.
He said comprehensive instructions had been issued to effectively monitor the election expenditure of the candidates.
This would involve deploying flying squads, static surveillance and video surveillance teams, as well as the income tax department and state excise departments.
General observers “have been asked to keep a close watch at every stage of the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections”, Sampath said.
Asked about the political impasse in Delhi, now under President’s Rule, Sampath said: “We are only concerned when elections are held. Government formation is not in our purview.”