New Delhi: The 70-member Delhi Assembly will go to the polls in a single phase on February 8, while the counting of votes will take place on February 11, the Election Commission said on Monday, adding that the model code of conduct has come into play with immediate effect.
Announcing the poll schedule, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the poll panel is committed to hold free, fair and transparent elections to the Delhi Assembly before the cessation of the legislative assembly which is to expire on February 22.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government came to power in Delhi in February 2015, sweeping 67 of the 70 Assembly seats.
The national poll watchdog has also published the final electoral list, informing that 1,47,03,692 electors are eligible to cast their franchise in the Delhi elections to decide the fate of candidates of AAP, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress — the three key parties in the fray.
The date of notification is January 14, while January 21 will be the last date of filing nominations.
Arora said that he held a meeting with the Chief Secretary and senior officials last month about holding elections and informed that 90,000 officials will be deployed on poll duties. “Additional secretaries will look after deployment of officers,” he said.
Arora lamented that some constituencies in Delhi had lower turnouts last time as compared to Maoist affected areas. But he assured that the EC is taking all steps to ensure more participation this time.
There are 13,750 polling stations in Delhi, a 16.89 per cent increase over the 11,763 polling stations in 2015.
Arora also announced pick and drop facilities for senior citizens who would like to caste their vote. Postal ballot facility for people with disabilities and senior citizens above the age of 80 is also available.
Teams for monitoring the media has also been formed, informed the CEC.
Out of the 70 Assembly seats, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Caste, Arora said.
Replying to a query while addressing the media, Arora said that as the model code of conduct comes into effect immediately, “no state-specific schemes will be announced in the national Budget”.
“All the provisions of model code will apply to the whole of NCT of Delhi with regard to all candidates, political parties and the government of the said UT (Union Territory). The model code of conduct (MCC) shall also be applicable to the Union government in so far as announcements or policy decisions pertaining to or for the NCT of Delhi,” he said.
Arora said that the poll panel has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring effective implementation of the MCC guidelines and any violation of these guidelines would be strictly dealt with.
The EC has also issued instructions for swift, effective and stringent action for the enforcement of MCC during the first 72 hours of the announcement of the election schedule and also for maintaining extra vigilance and strict enforcement action in the last 72 hours prior to the close of polls, Arora said.
“These instructions have been issued in the form of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for compliance by the field election machinery,” he said.