Bhubaneswar: The Election Commission’s announcement of the Lok Sabha elections 2019 dates have had political parties questioning the same. Alleging that the EC’s decision of holding both the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections in Odisha was influenced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has questioned the poll body.

Odisha will go to polls in four phases, starting April 11, 18, 23 and 29. On April 11, four constituencies, on April 18, five constituencies, on April 23, six constituencies and on April 29, six constituencies will go to polls respectively.

“On what grounds has the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Odisha proposed a four-phase election? The CEO is not independent. He is influenced by people other than his official duties,” asked BJD spokesperson Amar Patnaik.

Claiming that the BJP was weak in Odisha and West Bengal, Patnaik said it was for the same reason that the general elections in West Bengal were being held in four phases. Rajya Sabha member Pratap Keshari Deb also echoed similar sentiments like the BJD and said that Odisha did not have a four-phase election ever as the state’s law and order situation aren’t alarming.

Deb further said, “The EC is supposed to consult political parties in the state, but for the first time they have consulted nobody.”

The Assembly constituencies will go to polls simultaneously with those of the Lok Sabha. Apart from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, will also hold the Assembly elections along with Lok Sabha polls.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is eyeing a fifth term in the state. The state is also the first one to announce a 33 per cent quota for women in the allocation of Lok Sabha seats.  “I am delighted to be in Kendrapara today. Here, I have announced a 33 per cent reservation for women in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections,” Patnaik had said while addressing an election rally in Kendrapara district earlier.

On March 10, the EC announced the Lok Sabha elections 2019 schedule and dates for all the states and UTs. A total of 900 million electorates will cast their votes in the Lok Sabha elections, of which 15 million voters are in the 18-19 age group, said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Sunil Arora. The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) also came into effect on the same day in the entire country.

There will be approximately 10 lakh polling stations in this Lok Sabha elections as compared to nine lakh polling stations in 2014. The Lok Sabha elections 2019 will be held in seven phases.