Veteran politician Sharad Pawar today said he will not be contesting the coming Lok Sabha elections, saying he has decided against the idea. The 78-year former union minister, who retired from electoral politics in 2012, had created a stir last month announcing a reprise. The party had cleared the decks for his contest from the Madha seat in southwest Maharashtra, convincing sitting lawmaker Vijaysinh Mohite Patil to give up the seat.
Political parties are gearing up to launch their poll campaign from various places after the Election Commission's announcement of poll dates. Congress president Rahul Gandhi is expected to address Delhi Congress booth in-charges today, while DMK chief MK Stalin will chair a meeting of party lawmakers to discuss the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The national election will be held in seven rounds from 11 April and the results will be announced on May 23, the Election Commission said on Sunday. Voting will be held across India on April 11, April 19, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19.
The elections will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking another term in office and the opposition attempting to join forces to put up a strong fight.
Here are the Live Updates from Election Campaigning:
A total of 600 polling booths of the 58,186 voting stations to be set up for the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka on April 18 and 23 will be managed by women personnel, an election official said on Monday.
"As part of ensuring gender equality and constructive participation of women in the electoral process, the Commission has directed to set up 'all-women managed polling stations'," said a statement from state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sanjiv Kumar's office.
In these 600 women-run booths, polling staff, police and security personnel will all be women.
The state will have 58,186 voting stations for election to the 28 Lok Sabha seats in two phases -- on April 18 for 14 seats and April 23 for another 14 seats. Vote count will be held on May 23.
The southern state has a total of 5.03 crore registered voters.
The number of voting stations to be set up has been increased by seven per cent, from 54,265 polling booths in 2014 general elections, the statement said.
Malappuram district has got the maximum number of voters --30,47,923 and Wayanad the least --- 5,81,245, Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena told reporters.
"The model code of conduct is already in place. The notification will be issued on March 28. The last date for submitting the nomination is April 4 and the last date to withdraw the same is on April 8," Mr Meena said.
Of those eligible to exercise their franchise in the second phase of the staggered process -- 1,31,11,189 are women, 1,22,97,403 men and 119 transgenders.
The 30 to 39 age group would constitute 56,92,670 electorates, while 2,61,778 will be first time voters aged 18-19. There are 20 Lok Sabha seats from Kerala.
Assam, Chief Electoral Officer, Mukesh Chandra Sahu addressing a press conference here, said the number of voters are being updated on a daily basis and the final figure will be published just before the polling.
"As per the last summary revision published on January 1 this year, we have a total electorate of 2,17,60,604 across Assam. Out of this, 1,11,32,782 are male and 1,06,27,319 are female," he said.
Leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are among those who have claimed that holding elections during Ramzan will inconvenience Muslims and help the BJP as the community is largely seen to be backing the opposition parties against the ruling alliance.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain pointed out that Navratas, when many Hindus observe fast, will also fall during the elections.
"Muslims do not observe roza by not doing their work. Islam also does not ask us to stop our work for worship. It is not that people who have jobs do not attend them during Ramzan. They keep roza and do their work as well. Creating such a controversy is unfortunate," he said.
People who want to divide the country on communal lines are causing a controversy over it deliberately, Mr Hussain added.
The BJP leader noted that the Lok Sabha by-poll in Kairana in 2018 was held during Ramzan. The saffron party had lost the seat to the united opposition.
In a statement, the party said applications priced at Rs 25,000 per constituency will be available at the party headquarters here on Wednesday morning.
According to the statement, aspirants have to submit their filled in applications by Wednesday evening itself.
The Election Commission on Sunday said by-elections for 18 vacant Assembly constituencies will be held on April 18.
All the best sir for your future role as a leader of opposition. Hope you will grace the Swearing-in ceremony of @INCIndia & will have more time to attend Parliament. Its just a slight shift- from PM to MP😀🙏 #ByeByeModihttps://t.co/D5oE3gbvcq- Sharmistha Mukherjee (@Sharmistha_GK) March 10, 2019