The Election Commission of India will announce the dates for assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry on Friday. The election body will hold a press conference to announce the dates at 4.30 pm.
The four states and the union territory are set to go to polls in April-May this year as the terms of the five legislative assemblies come to an end. The EC held a meeting on Wednesday to finalize the dates of the upcoming assembly elections in these states and the union territory.
This is the first major set of elections to be held in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic after the Bihar election. Polls will be held for 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 140 seats in Kerala, 126 seats in Assam and 30 seats in Puducherry.
Bengal will be the most high-stakes battle between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s TMC and the BJP, which has been making inroads into the state, and has already started a high-pitched campaign in the state and inducted several Trinamool Congress leaders to its state unit to dislodge Banerjee.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Election Commission will likely hold elections in West Bengal in seven-eight phases. In 2016, elections were held in six phases from April 4-May 5. The BJP is also campaigning aggressively to retain power in Assam, where it won for the first time in 2016, beating the Congress.
The Election Commission of India is also concerned about the increasing Covid-19 cases in Kerala. Generally, Kerala is a single-phase poll-going state. However, in the context of Covid-19 cases in the state, the EC may decide to conduct multi-phase elections.
In Tamil Nadu, the battle will be between the two mainstays of the state’s politics – the ruling AIADMK and the DMK – while Sasikala and Kamal Haasan may be the X-factor, in the first election without the state’s iconic leaders Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi.
In Puducherry, President’s rule has been imposed and the assembly kept under suspended animation after the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government resigned earlier this week ahead of a vote of confidence. The Congress had only won in the UT in the last round of polls in these states in 2016 but lost power after a string of resignations.