Chandigarh: The municipal polls of Mayor and of the Corporations of Hisar, Rohtak, Yamunanagar, Panipat, and Karnal, and of Municipal Committees of Jakhal Mandi and Pundri in Haryana will be held on December 16. However, the counting of votes will take place on December 19.Also Read - Procurement of Kharif Crops to Start From Sunday in Haryana, Punjab: Centre Amid Farmers' Protests

The voting for the five municipal corporations will be held from 7.30 AM to 4.30 PM. As many as 1,092 polling booths will be set up in 136 wards of the five municipal corporations. All main political parties in the state have said they would fight polls on their respective party symbols. “Multi-post EVMs” would be used to enable voters to vote separately for the mayor and the councillors. Also Read - Police Use Water Canons on Farmers Protesting Outside Haryana CM's Residence | Watch

The nominations for the corporations and committees going to polls was filed from December 1 to 6, except December 2 as it was a holiday. Also Read - Police Use Water Cannons During Clash With Farmers in Haryana's Jhajjar | WATCH

The scrutiny of nomination papers was undertaken on December 7, while the last date of withdrawal of candidature had been fixed for December 8. The announcement of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect within the municipal limits of all the civic bodies going to polls.

Further, elaborate security arrangements are being made for smooth conduct of elections in a free, fair and transparent manner. The Haryana police will take care of the law and order and security arrangements, while the sensitive and hypersensitive booths are being identified.

Opposition Claims

Meanwhile, Haryana’s main opposition party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) earlier complained to the State Election Commissioner alleging a violation of the Model Code of Conduct by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in connection with the upcoming municipal polls. “The BJP regime has brazenly tried to influence the voters in its favour by misusing the state machinery,” an INLD release said.

“As per provisions of Model Code of Conduct of the State Election Commission, Haryana, no grant for a scheme can be sanctioned or implemented from the discretionary funds till the election process is over,” it said further. “However, in a crude disregard for the Model Code, the Haryana Government has announced a scheme for the ‘Khakhi Card Holders’ granting a subsidy worth Rs 1600 per LPG connection,” it added.

The INLD alleged that the announcement of the subsidy was a clear effort to influence the voters in favour of the BJP and the INLD demanded that the State Election Commission must look into the matter and initiate legal action against those involved in the “gross violation”.

Both INLD and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are fighting the upcoming polls on party symbol. Notably, the Haryana government has launched a new scheme to provide fresh LPG connection on a subsidy of Rs 1,600 to Other Priority Households (OPH), which would be effective from January 26, 2019, an official statement said here Tuesday.

All OPH families holding ‘Khakhi Ration Cards’ with none of the members having an LPG connection in their name and if the head of the family in the ration card is a woman, will be eligible to avail the benefits under the scheme, it added. The subsidy amount of Rs 1,600, which at present is the security cost of cylinder and regulator, would be provided by the state government and the remaining amount of about Rs 633 would be borne by the consumer, the state’s Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumers Affairs Department said.

Three years back, Haryana government decided that ration cards in the state would be made in four colours so that the beneficiaries do not face any problem or confusion. The beneficiaries have been divided into five categories: Above Poverty Line (APL), Other Priority Households (OPH), State Below Poverty Line (SBPL), Central Below Poverty Line (CBPL) and Antodya Anna Yojana (AAY). The colour of APL ration cards is green while OPH ration cards are made in Khakhi colour. The card for SBPL and CBPL are yellow in colour. Likewise, AAY ration cards are pink in colour.

NOTA Option as a Fictional Character

In a significant move, the Haryana Election Commission has decided to treat ‘none-of-the-above’ or NOTA option as a fictional candidate in upcoming municipal polls, making it must for winning candidates to secure more votes than those cast for NOTA.

NOTA will be treated as a fictional electoral candidate. If in the election, all the contesting candidates individually receive less votes than those cast for the fictional candidate, NOTA, none of the candidates will be declared elected. The polls will be cancelled and held afresh,” Haryana Election Commissioner Dalip Singh said on November 22.

Singh said while declaring the results, NOTA will be treated as a fictional electoral candidate for the first time in the electoral history of the country. He said the candidates securing lesser votes than NOTA would not be eligible to file nominations for fresh polls to be held later.

If a contesting candidate and the NOTA both receive equal valid votes, the candidate, and not the fictional candidate, shall be declared elected, he said. But, in the case of re-election, if NOTA again gets the highest number of votes, the candidate with the second highest votes will be declared elected, he added.

(With PTI inputs)