EC notifies poll dates for Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry

 The Election Commission has announced the schedule for upcoming assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. 

While assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry will be held in a single phase on 6 April, West Bengal will have an eight-phase poll schedule and Assam will see three-phase voting starting 27 March.
Counting of votes for the four states and one union territory will be done on 2May and results will be declared after the completion of counting.
The term of the legislative assemblies of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry is due to expire in the next two months. The Election Commission of India (ECI) is entrusted with the responsibility of conducting free, fair, participative, accessible, inclusive and safe election to these legislative assemblies before the cessation of their term.
At stake is 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 140 seats in Kerala, 126 seats in Assam and 30 seats in Puducherry. 
Since elections to these states will be held amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Election Commission is expected to implement Covid-19 protocol for voting.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress chief asked the EC that if Assam polls can be conducted in three phases and Tamil Nadu in one then why Bengal polls were being scheduled in eight phases. She also alleged that the decision was taken to suit the convenience of the BJP. .
The opposition parties in West Bengal welcomed the eight-phase elections in the state with the BJP saying that it was hopeful about the polls being free and fair.
The Congress party in the state said that it was looking forward to an election in 10 to 12 phases, while the CPI(M) maintained that the number of phases does not matter if the elections are held violence-free.
"We are happy. We hope that the elections would be free and fair and the people of the state will be allowed to exercise their democratic right without any fear," BJP's state vice-president Jaiprakash Majumdar said.
State Congress leader Manoj Chakraborty said the elections should have been held in at least 10-12 phases, alleging poor law and order situation in the state. 
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said voting will be allowed for an extra hour, considering the need to strictly follow Covid-19 guidelines amidst the pandemic, adding that arrangements would also be made for candidates to file nominations online. Further, he said, all poll officials will be vaccinated against Covid-19 before the elections.
“Vaccination drive has made the situation more conducive for elections. Everyone on poll duty will be declared frontline worker for vaccine purpose,” the election commissioner added. Further, door-to-door campaigning has been restricted to five persons including the candidate. However, roadshows have been permitted.