New Delhi: The election season is here again! The Election Commission of India of Friday announced the schedule for holding general elections to the legislative assemblies of four states and one Union territory – Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry. Voting for five assembly elections will begin on March 27, with West Bengal having the maximum eight phases continuing till April 29. Counting of votes for all give assemblies will be held on May 2. The assembly poll dates were announced by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora at a press conference in New Delhi. Also Read - All Poll Staff On Duty in Upcoming Assembly Elections Declared Frontline Workers, To Be Vaccinated

While elections to the 140-member Kerala Assembly, the 30-member Puducherry Assembly and the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly will be held in a single phase on April 6, polling for the 140-member Assam Assembly will be held on March 27, April 1 and April 6. Also Read - Assembly Election For 4 States, 1 UT: Check Full Schedule, State-Wise Details

Polling to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held in eight phases, on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. Also Read - Puducherry Election 2021 Dates Announced: Check Full Schedule For Assembly Polls Here

Here are all the major announcements made by the Election Commission in today’s press conference and the political developments that unfolded since in 10 points:

1. 18.68 crore voters to cast their votes in upcoming polls

As many as 18.68 crore voters will be eligible to cast their votes at 2.7 lakh polling stations for 824 assembly seats across Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

2. Special Observers appointed to prevent violence in West Bengal

The Election Commission will appoint two special observers for West Bengal and a third can also be sent if required, Arora said in response to queries on whether enough arrangements are in place for the polls in the state, where many have been raising questions about political violence.

3. All poll officials to be vaccinated

Everyone on election duty for the upcoming polls and have been declared frontline workers will be vaccinated against COVID-19 before polling day.

4. Model Code of Conduct comes into force

The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come into force after the announcement of the election dates, as announced by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

5. Nominations to be filed online, voting time increased by an hour

Arrangements will be put in place for candidates to file their nominations online. Voting will be allowed for an additional hour, keeping in mind COVID-19 safety guidelines.

6. Special arrangements for sensitive areas

Webcasting arrangements will be in place at polling stations in critical and vulnerable areas, while adequate CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) deployment will be ensured. All critical and vulnerable areas have been identified and advance teams have been already deployed across the four states and one union territory.

7. New rules for roadshows, door-to-door campaigning

He said door-to-door campaigning will be restricted to five persons, including the candidate, while roadshows will be allowed with a maximum of five vehicles.

8. Mamata Banerjee questions EC over West Bengal poll schedule

Questioning the eight-phase assembly elections in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she suspects that the dates were announced as per the suggestions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for better management of the BJP’s poll campaign.

“With all due respect to the Election Commission, I want to say that questions are being raised on why elections will be held in so many phases in Bengal while other states will be voting in one phase. If EC doesn’t provide justice to the people, where will the people go,” she said. Mamata Banerjee also said that despite “all these tricks”, she will win the elections.

9. Smriti Irani drives scooty at Bengal roadshow

Riding a scooter, Union minister Smriti Irani led a rally of the BJP as she campaigned for the upcoming West Bengal elections in the South 24 Parganas district. After covering a short distance on bus, Smriti Irani got down from the ‘rath’ and took to a scooter, wearing a black helmet and a mask.

Enthused by the minister’s spontanity, scores of BJP workers followed Irani on two-wheelers, chanting “Jai Shri Ram” and “Khela Hobey”, meaning ‘game on’ — a slogan first raised by the Trinamool Congress, which has now become the catchphrase of this election season.

10. Poll dates announced for 4 states, 1 UT

Here is the complete schedule of dates for 5 assemblies of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry. Check the full schedule below or on EC’s website.

West Bengal Election 2021 Dates