The Election Commission of India on Friday announced the schedule for the Assembly elections in four states – Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala – along with the Union Territory of Puducherry. This will be the first set of major elections to take place in the country amid the coronavirus crisis, after the Bihar Assembly polls in October-November.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that counting of votes in all states and the Union Territory will be held on May 2.
The elections to the 294 seats in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. A total of 30 Assembly constituencies will go to polls in the first phase on March 27. The second phase will take place on April 1 for 30 constituencies.
In the third phase, 31 seats will go to polls on April 6. The fourth phase of voting will take place on April 10, with 44 constituencies in the fray. The fifth phase will be held on April 17 for 45 seats. In the sixth phase, 43 constituencies will vote on April 22, followed by the seventh phase on April 26 for 36 seats. The eighth and the final phase will be held on April 29 for 35 Assembly constituencies.
The stage is set for a high-stake contest between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is seeking to make inroads in the state. The saffron party’s aggressive campaign ahead of the polls has sparked a mass exodus of TMC leaders who switched sides.
In Assam, the polls for the 126-seat Assembly will be held from March 27 to April 6 in three phases. The first phase of voting will take place on March 27. In the second phase, 29 constituencies will go to polls on April 1. In the final phase, 40 constituencies will go to poll on April 6.
The BJP will fight to retain power and has been campaigning aggressively for it. It had defeated the Congress in Assam for the first time in 2016. On the other hand, the Congress has tied up with five other parties. All India United Democratic Front, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation, and the Anchalik Gana Marcha (AGM) are part of the alliance.
The elections to 140 seats in Kerala will take place on April 6 in a single phase. The BJP is preparing to the challenge the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala. However, the main contest is being expected to take place between the ruling LDF and the United Democratic Front. The voters have alternated between the two in past state elections.
The elections in Tamil Nadu will take place in a single phase on April 6. The BJP will contest elections with its ally All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, while the Congress is expected to fight it along with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Elections will be held for 234 seats.
In Puducherry, too, the polls will be held on April 6 in a single phase for 30 seats. The Congress-led Puducherry government had collapsed after four of the party MLAs had resigned. Three days after the Congress failed to prove its majority in a floor test, the Union Territory was placed under the President’s rule on Thursday. The BJP had said it will not stake claim to form a government, but expressed confidence that the party will win in the Assembly election.