New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday announced six phased Assembly elections in West Bengal, two stage poll in Assam and a single day poll in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

Announcing the schedule, Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said the model code of conduct has come into force immediately. Counting of votes in all the five states will take place on May 13.

Due to rampant Maoist activities, West Bengal will have elections in six phases-April 18, 23, 27, May 3, 7 and 10, in perhaps the longest ever in the state, also known for political violence.

Asked as to why the EC had gone for six-phased polls in West Bengal, the Commission said that a decision was taken keeping in view the "ground realities". The EC had already sent two teams to the state to study the law and order situation.

Setting in motion the largest such exercise after Lok Sabha polls-2009 the EC said that Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry would go to polls on Apri1 13. Assam's two-phased poll is scheduled on April four and 11.

With West Bengal having 294 assembly constituencies, Tamil Nadu has 234, Kerala 140, Puducherry 30 and Assam 126.

The elections would involve over 14.39 crore electorate in the five states with West Bengal having the largest number of over 5.60 crore electors followed by Tamil Nadu 4.59 crore.

While Kerala has 2.29 crore electors, Assam 1.81 crore and Puducherry is merely over eight lakh. Polling will be held through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMS).

A highlight this time is that Overseas Indians could exercise their franchise in person and instructions have been issued to facilitate their voting.

There have been elections only to few states since last Lok Sabha polls including those in Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Haryana in 2009 and Bihar in 2010.

(Agencies)