The first phase will be held on April 11, second on April 18, third on April 23 and fourth on April 29, fifth on May 6, sixth on May 12 and seventh phase on May 19.
Counting of votes for all seven phases would be done on May 23. (Live updates)
The model code of conduct has come into effect immediately. “The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes into effect from today itself in the entire country. Any violation will be dealt with in the strictest manner,” said Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.
Nearly 90 crore voters would be eligible to vote for 543 Lok Sabha constituencies across the country.
Announcing the schedule for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission said the ‘voter verifiable paper audit trail’ (VVPAT) will be used in all polling stations this time.
In these polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make his bid to return to power amid hectic parleys by several political parties to put a united fight against the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The term of the present Lok Sabha ends on June 3.
Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal, Odisha and Sikkim will also be held simultaneously, the Election Commission (EC) said. However, elections for the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, which was dissolved after the ruling coalition between the BJP and the PDP fell apart, will not be held along with the Lok Sabha polls.
After suffering losses in assembly polls in three states recently, the BJP believes that its Lok Sabha poll campaign is back on track due to a host of decisions, including 10 per cent quota for the general category poor, money transfer to farmers and presentation of a populist budget.
What has injected further confidence into the NDA fold is the fronting of the nationalist plank in the poll campaign after the Pulwama terror attack, which killed 40 CRPF personnel, that was followed by the Indian Air Force’ strikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan.
The BJP has been citing 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads and these air strikes to assert that only a government headed by Modi will be capable of taking on Pakistan over terrorism, as it has sought to corner the Congress on the issue.
Modi had led the NDA to a sweeping victory in 2014 as it won 336 of 543 Lok Sabha seats, reducing the incumbent Congress to its lowest total of 44 seats. The BJP on its own won a majority, a first for the party, by bagging 282 seats.