New Delhi: The countdown for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has begun. The polls will be held between April 7 and May 12 in nine phases, said the Elections Commission on Wednesday.
The world's largest democratic exercise will involve a staggering 814 million voters, an increase of some 100 million from 2009 and a sharp rise from the 176 million in the first parliamentary polls of 1952.
"Credible elections are the very soul and hallmark of any democratic system," Sampath told the media.
Polling will take place for 543 of the 545 Lok Sabha seats -- two members are nominated by the president -- on April 7, 9, 10, 12, 17, 24 and 30 and May 7 and 12.
Sampath urged the people to "exercise their right to vote in an informed and ethical manner".
He also appealed to political parties and candidates "to uphold the democratic traditions of the nation by maintaining high standards of political discourse and fair play".
"The Election Commission," he added, "reassures the nation of its solemn resolve and deep commitment to fulfil its constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair and credible elections."
Election Commissioner H.S. Brahma added: "We appeal to all political parties not to use any such words or language that is against decorum and decency."
For the first time in any parliamentary election, voters will be free to go for "None of the Above" option among the candidates -- a provision made available in the November-December assembly polls in five states.
Sampath expressed concern over the use of money power aimed at influencing voters and said the poll panel was taking a string of steps to check this.
There will be about 930,000 polling stations across the country -- a 12 percent rise from the 2009 election.
The model code of conduct came into effect with Wednesday's announcement. Sampath said the code was necessary to ensure a level playing field among various contenders for power.
Brahma said for reasons of security, balloting will take place in areas where Maoists were active on one single day.
Six Lok Sabha constituencies in two states will see polling on the first day April 7.
This will be followed by seven constituencies spread over five states April 9, 92 constituencies/14 states April 10, five constituencies/three states April 12, 122 constituencies/13 states April 17, 117 constituencies/12 states April 24, 89 constituencies/nine states April 30, 64 constituencies/seven states May 7 and 41 constituencies/three states May 12.
Sampath said the election schedule was arrived at after taking into view several factors such as school examinations, monsoon, harvesting season and local festivals.
On March 9, voters all over the country will be able check for themselves, in designated stations near their homes, if their names do figure in the electoral rolls or not.
Tamil Nadu will go to polls on April 24.
On March 9, Sunday, in the entire country, booth level officers will be sitting with forms and electoral rolls to receive applications
9 lakh 30 thousand polling stations across country: CEC V S Sampath
AP will go to polls on April 30 and May 7. Both Assembly and Lok Sabha
Counting of Votes on 16 May
Voting for Lok Sabha polls begins on April 7
Polling stations approximately 9,30,000 across India. Up by 12%: CEC V S Sampath
Total electorate 814 Million (81.4 Crores). 10 crore more voters: CEC V S Sampath
Special camps will be organised in all polling booths across India with voters list. Voters can confirm their names.
NOTA (None of the Above) option to be used for first time in Lok Sabha polls: CEC
Election should be over before the Monsoon arrives: CEC
General election to be held in 9 phases from April 7 to May 16.
Election Commission to announce Lok Sabha poll dates at 10.30 am today
New Delhi: On Wednesday the much-awaited schedule for the Lok Sabha polls will be announced by the Election Commission. With the announcement of poll dates, the Model Code of Conduct for governments and political parties will come into force with immediate effect. Therefore, once elections are announced, the Cabinet will no longer be able to take key decisions.
The schedule will be announced at a press conference by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath along with two Election Commissioners H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi. The conference this time is being held at Vigyan Bhawan instead ofat Nirvachan Bhawan, the EC headquarters.
Meanwhile, sources say that general election to be held in 9 phases from April 8 to May 16.
An estimated 81.4 crore voters will be eligible to vote in the coming elections with 9.71 crore new voters, between 18 and 22 years of age, will be eligible to vote for the first time in each Lok Sabha constituency this year, according to latest data from the Election Commission.
For the first time, Lok Sabha elections will be the introduction of "None of the Above" (NOTA) option in voting. The NOTA option was made mandatory by the Supreme Court last year so that people who did not want to vote for any of the candidates in their respective constituencies had the option of rejecting all of them without giving up their right to a secret vote.