Big question answered: Why the date and schedule for the Rajasthan assembly polls are revised?

Two days after announcing the election schedules for the assembly elections in five states, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has on Wednesday - October 11 revised the election date for one of the poll-bound states - Rajasthan. The decision to revise the election date in Rajasthan was taken owing to various events in the state that could mar the participation of the voters to cast their votes. 

As per the original schedule, Rajasthan ought to go for a single-phased polling on November 23- Thursday. However, the revised schedule has deferred the polling date to two days and it will be held on November 25. Along with Rajasthan, the states of Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram will also be hosting assembly elections in various dates of November 2023. 

Being dubbed as the last leg of elections ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the results of the elections in these five states will be declared on December 3. Besides Chhattisgarh that would go for a two-phased polling, the rest four states will poll in single phase. Amidst the uphill battle between the political parties, the ECI has now announced a revised election date and schedule for Rajasthan. 

The commission has said that in the wake of large scale wedding and social engagements that would happen on November 23 in Rajasthan, the date of polling has been revised to November 25. In its statement, the ECI said, "The Election Commission of India had announced the schedule for General Election to the Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan vide Press Note No ECI/PN/57/2023 dated 9th October, 2023 along with other states wherein the date of poll for Rajasthan was fixed on 23rd November, 2023 (Thursday)." 

The ECI further said, "Subsequently, representations have been received in the Commission from various politcal parties, social organisations and also issues raised in various media platforms for change of date of poll considering large scale wedding/social engagement on that day which may cause inconvenience to large number of people, various logistic issues and may lead to reduced voters participation during poll."

"The Commission, having considered these factors and representations, has decided to change the date of poll from 23rd November, 2023 (Thursday) to 25th November, 2023 (Saturday)", the ECI has added. According to the announcement from the ECI, Mizoram, with 40 assembly seats, will go for a single-phased polling which will be held on November 7, while Chhattisgarh, with 90 assembly seats, will go to the polls in two phases - the first phase of voting will be held on November 7 and the second phase of voting will take place on November 17. 

Madhya Pradesh has 230 assembly seats and will go to a single-phase poll on November 17 and with 119 assembly seats, Telangana will go for voting on November 30. The counting of votes in all the states will be done on December 3 during which the results will be announced. In a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar announced the election schedules for these five states and he further said, "In 40 days, we visited all five states and held discussions with political parties, as well as with Central and state enforcement agencies." He said that the total number of voters in all the five states is 16.1 crore. 

Madhya Pradesh has the highest number with 5.6 crore voters followed by Rajasthan with 5.25 crore voters, Telangana with 3.17 crore voters, Chhattisgarh with 2.03 crore voters, and Mizoram with 8.52 lakh voters. The Election Commission will be installing a total of 1.77 lakh polling stations, of which 1.1 lakh stations will be equipped with web-casting facilities. 

The commission will also be setting up new booths in remote and inaccessible areas to facilitate voter participation. New booths will be set up in desert areas of Barmer, Rajasthan and on Tulsi Dongri Hill on the Chhattisgarh-Odisha border. Rajiv Kumar further said that over 60 lakh young people will cast vote for the first time in these states and with the view of inspiring them, over 2,900 polling stations will be managed by youth. Furthermore, more than 8,000 polling stations will be managed by women.