**Bhubaneswar:** The much-awaited 2019 general election and assembly election dates are likely to be declared next week. Highly placed sources have confirmed OMMCOM NEWS that the poll dates would be declared anytime between February 26 and March 3.
At least four States – Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim would have assembly elections with the Lok Sabha polls. A report has revealed that elections to the Legislative Assemblies in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand could be advanced by several months to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.
State elections are due in Maharashtra and Haryana in October this year while Jharkhand is slated to go to polls in December. The Election Commission is also likely to hold polls for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly alongside the General Elections, as President’s Rule is in place in J&K currently.
Conducting elections in world’s largest democracy with a population of 130 crore and 85 crore eligible voters, is a challenging task. While the Lok Sabha polls are usually held in 7 to 8 phases, the number of phases is likely to swell as the simultaneous Assembly elections are also lined up.
In the 2019 general elections, the voters would cast their ballots at some 8 lakh polling stations, using some 13 lakh voting machines. Such an arduous and sensitive task calls for exhaustive preparedness and execution.
One of the primary concerns of the Election Commission of India (ECI) remains adequate security arrangement in booths across a vast nation. The demand for security cover becomes dire in case of Maoist-affected States, communally sensitive constituencies and districts with poll violence antecedents.
While the onus of security is essentially on the paramilitary forces, apart from the State police, in the wake of the Pulwama attacks, mobilizing security from the Northern and Western frontiers has put the ECI machinery in a spot of bother, said sources.
It is believed that the announcement of election dates is being moderately preponed to provide ample time for preparedness. Soon as the election dates are announced, the model code of conduct will be enforced. The code of conduct remains in force till the announcement of election results.
In Odisha, where Naveen Patnaik would contest for a fifth term, the Chief Minister is touring the State extensively over the last one month. Naveen, who has scored landslide victories in the past two elections, is taking up whirlwind tours to inaugurate new projects and lay foundation stones of the pending ones.
On the other hand, 2019 elections will be the biggest challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who fights a buoyant Congress-led Opposition for another term. Regardless of which parties carry the day when all the votes are counted, the Indian election always remains a wonder.