New Delhi | Jagran Politics Desk: The Election Commission on Friday announced the much-awaited schedule for assembly polls in four states -- West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam -- and one union territory -- puducherry -- amid challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.

Addressing a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that the polling will begin from March 27 while the counting of votes for all states and UT will be done on May 2.

It said that elections in West Bengal will be held in eight phases, starting from March 27 that will cover 38 constituencies. The second phase will be conducted on April 1 that will cover 30 constituencies while the polling will be held on 31 seats on April 6.

The Election Commission said that the fourth phase will be held on April 10 for 44 constituencies, the fifth on April 17 for 45 seats, sixth for 43 seats on April 22, seventh phase on April 26 for 36 seats and last and eighth phase on April 29 for 35 seats.

Speaking about Assam, the Arora said that polls will be conducted in three phases on March 27 (47 constituencies), April 1 (39 constituencies) and April 6 (40 constituencies).

On the other hand, polling in Kerala (140 seats), Tamil Nadu (234 seats) and Puducherry (30 seats) will take place in a single phase on April 6, the Election Commission said.

The Election Commission further said that nearly 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.

"Model code of Conduct to come into force after announcements of the elections. During campaign period candidates with criminal dissident to give information about them through media at least three times," Arora said.

Arora also said everyone on election duty for the upcoming polls will be vaccinated against COVID-19 before polling day. He added that arrangements will be put in place for candidates to file their nominations online.

Also, 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, Arora said.

All critical and vulnerable areas have been identified and advance teams have been already deployed across the four states and one union territory, he added.

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.

According to Arora, the nationwide vaccination drive has made the situation more conducive for conducting elections and the Health Ministry has declared everyone on poll duty as frontline workers for vaccination purposes.

All poll officials will be vaccinated before the elections, Arora said.

Arora, who will demit office on April 13, also said all must be congratulated for the successful conduct of elections in Bihar last year despite the COVID-19 challenges and he is confident of success once again.

(With inputs from PTI)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma