New Delhi: The Election Commission this week is expected to announce the schedule for elections in five state Assemblies, including Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

The elections are also scheduled in Kerala, Assam and Puducherry amid indications that the exercise is likely to be held by the middle of April.

This will be first battle of ballot for the states this year.

The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu is facing an uphill task with the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK in the process of stitching a formidable alliance with Vijayakanth-led DMDK. The Left parties and the Vaiko-led MDMK are already in the AIADMK front.

The talks are still on between Congress and the DMK which has already brought the PMK on board. The DMK is facing the elections in the midst of controversy over the 2G spectrum scam which forced its party nominee A Raja to quit as Telecom Minister.

The ruling Left front in West Bengal is expected to face its toughest political battle after remaining in power for over three decades with an upbeat Mamata Banerjee likely to give a tough fight.

Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has announced plans to tie up with the Congress with which it shares power at the Centre.

In Assam, the Congress is in power for the last two terms and is unlikely to have any alliance with other parties while opposition AGP and BJP have started their preparations for the polls.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who represents the state in the Rajya Sabha, has already made a visit to the state last month and announced several developmental projects in an effort to improve the party's poll prospects.

The proposed peace talks with ULFA are also expected to give a boost to Congress.

In Kerala, the Congress-led UDF is expected to give a tough fight to the ruling LDF-led CPI (M) in view of the fact that the Congress and its allies' good show in the last Lok Sabha polls.

The Prime Minister had also made a visit to the state last month when he inaugurated several projects in the state.

In Puducherry, the Congress is in power and would be making every effort to retain it.
The Election Commission, which had already reviewed the law and order situation in these states, has expressed concern over the political violence in West Bengal. The EC has sent two teams of independent observers to review the law and order situation in the state.

Besides, the top election body has also tightened measures to check the growing money power in elections and gave series of instructions to the Chief Electoral Officers of the five states to check the menace such as paid news in order to provide a level playing field.