The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced the election dates in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur. It is exercising this right as per the Section 15 of the Representation of People Act of 1951 that empowers the EC to hold elections at any date which is within 6 months prior to the expiry of the term of a State Assembly. The terms of the five states expire between March 18 and May 27 of 2017.
Manipur elections will be held in 2 phases – first phase on the 4th of March and the second phase on the 8th of March.
Punjab and Goa elections to be held on the 4th of February and the elections in Uttarakhand will be held on the 15th of February.
Uttar Pradesh elections shall be held in 7 phases and shall be spread across the 11, 15, 19, 23 and 27 of February and the 4th and the 8th of March.
The counting of votes shall be done on the 11th of March.
The maximum amount that a candidate can spend is Rs 28 lakhs in UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab, while it is Rs 20 lakhs in Goa and Manipur. All donations for the elections have to be accepted by the candidate in the forms of cheques. All elections related expenses have to be done through a fresh bank account that has been opened for the election. All expenses above Rs 20,000 have to be done by cheque.
All the announcements were made by the Chief Electoral Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, who was flanked by two Election Commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat. Mr. Zaidi has said that over 60 million voters shall vote in 690 constituencies. UP has 403 constituencies, Punjab has 117 constituencies, Uttarakhand has 70 constituencies and Manipur has 60 constituencies and Goa is the smallest with 40 constituencies.
The Model Code of Conduct will come into play immediately and shall apply on all political parties, state governments and central governments in terms of the announcements in the concerned states.