New Delhi :  The Election Commission on Tuesday advanced the announcement of the Lok Sabha election schedule by a day: the crucial press conference will take place at 10.30 AM on Wednesday.

Voting Machine
Voting Machine

It is apparently a move aimed at scuttling any more decisions by the UPA government on the Prime Minister’s return from Myanmar as the model code of conduct for political parties will come into force with the announcement of the poll dates. The government cannot make any announcements that can influence the voters thereafter.

The term of the current Lok Sabha expires on June 1 and a new house has to be constituted by May 31. The poll process, therefore, will be wound up by the middle of May. In that case, polling is likely to commence in the second week of April and may be spread over seven phases.

The election will be significant for more reasons than one: First, ‘None of the above’ (NOTA) option will be given to voters for the first time in a parliamentary contest. Also, an estimated 814 million voters will be eligible to vote, of which there will be 97.1 million new voters, added since the 2009 election. The model code of conduct will come into force immediately after the dates are announced, which means the government cannot make any policy announcements.

Along with the Lok Sabha election, assembly polls are also due in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim.

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