New Delhi: Upsetting Mayawati's plans, the Election Commission on Saturday announced a seven-phased poll in Uttar Pradesh between February 4 and 28, while assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa will be held in a single-phase.

Election schedule of Legislative Assembly for five states

SP, BJP, Congress welcome 7-phase polls

Punjab and Uttarakhand will go to polls on January 30, while it will be held on January 28 in Manipur and on March 3 in Goa. The counting of votes in all the states will be held together on March 4.

Announcing the poll schedule in five states, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said the Model Code of Conduct comes into immediate effect in all the five states and will also apply to the Central government.

Earlier, reports had it that the Mayawati government was planning to advance the school and college examinations to February to avoid an early poll. The seven-phased polling in
Uttar Pradesh will be the longest in any state in the country so far.

Uttar Pradesh, with 403 assembly constituencies (85 reserved for SCs), will witness polling in seven phases on February 4, 8, 11, 15, 19, 23 and 28.

The term of the assembly in Punjab, with 117 constituencies of which 34 are reserved, ends on March 14, while that of Uttarakhand, which has 70 assembly seats of which 13 are reserved for SCs and 2 for STs, ends on March 12.

The tenure of Manipur assembly (60 seats with one reserved for SCs and 19 for STs) ends on March 15, while that of Goa with 40 seats of which only one is reserved for SC, ends on
June 14.

Quraishi said photo-identity cards will be mandatory for identification of voters. Elections in all the booths will be conducted through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

There will be seven separate notifications to be issued on January 10, 12, 16, 21, 25, 28 and February 2 for the seven phase polls in UP and nominations can be filed upto one week
after the notification dates.

The notifications for polls in Punjab and Uttarakhand will be issued on January 5, while it will be issued on January 4 for polls in Manipur and February 6 for Goa.

Flanked by Election Commissioners V S Sampath and H S Brahma, Quraishi announced that the EC has set up a 24-hour call centre for redressal of complaints which can be registered either by calling at toll-free number 1950 or on the EC website.

The CEC said electoral rolls in all assembly constituencies in the five poll-bound states are being revised, with reference to January 1, 2012 as the qualifying date and the same will be published on January 2.

While Uttar Pradesh has 11.19 crore electors as per draft publication, Punjab has 1.74 crore and Uttarakhand 57.4 lakh voters. Manipur has a total of 16.77 lakh voters and Goa has 10.12 lakh electors so far.

The maximum number of 1,28,112 polling stations will be set up in Uttar Pradesh, while Punjab will have 19,724 polling stations and Uttarakhand 9,744. The north-eastern state of
Manipur will have 2,325 polling stations and Goa will have a total of 1,612 stations.

Quraishi said adequate central police forces and the state armed police personnel have been made available to the Election Commission for smooth conduct of elections, though he did not specify the number of para-military forces to be deployed during polling.

The CEC said proper monitoring of polls would be carried out with appointment of general observers, election expenditure observers and micro-observers in polling stations.

The micro-observers, deployed in selected critical polling stations, will work in close coordination with general observers and will observe the proceedings at polling stations on poll days, he said.

He said EC will also ensure that misuse of black money and drugs during polls does not take place, for which the tax and narcotics surveillance machinery has been activated.

The CEC said polling parties will be formed randomly through special software and three-stage randomisation will be adopted to ensure that they do not know in advance at which polling booth they are deployed.

The Election Commission has also modified the format for filing of affidavits regarding criminal backgrounds, assets, liabilities and educational qualifications of candidates to include a summary sheet this time.

The EC has also banned the use of religious places for election campaigns for the assembly polls.

Congress hails poll schedule

Congress on Saturday hailed the announcement of Assembly poll schedule in Uttar Pradesh and four other states, saying the exercise will again show that it is the only pan-Indian party.

"The Congress is raring to go. It is fit as a fighting machine. It will show yet again that it is the only pan-Indian party with a strong presence in every nook and corner of the country," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.

Remove officials close to Maya: BJP to EC

As poll schedules for Uttar Pradesh and four other states were announced, BJP on Saturday day asked the Election Commission to remove top bureaucrats and police officials close to Chief Minister Mayawati accusing them of working as BSP "agents".

 "We are ready for the elections. BJP welcomes the poll dates announced by the Election Commission today. We will fight the elections in Uttar Pradesh on the issues of corruption and crime which have increased manifold under Mayawati's rule," BJP Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

However, the BJP feels free and fair polls in the politically crucial state of UP are not possible till police officers and top bureaucrats are removed from key postings.

"UP polls are crucial. So the top police and administrative officials who have conducted themselves as spokespersons and agents of BSP in the last four and half years should be removed from key postings. If this is not done they are likely to interfere in the poll process," Naqvi said.

A BJP delegation has already submitted to the Election Commission a list of top officials in UP who are said to be close to Mayawati.

The list includes the names of the present UP Cabinet Secretary and DGP. Naqvi maintained scores of bureaucrats and police officers, even at the district level, were transferred
and demanded revocation of these transfers.