New Delhi : The Election Commission will today announce the dates of the assembly elections in four states, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram. The election date in Telangana is also likely to be announced today, according to sources.
The Model Code of Conduct will come into force as soon as the announcement is made by Election Commissioner OP Rawat during a press conference this afternoon.
Sources in the election body said that the entire election exercise will be completed by the first week of December. While polls in Chhattisgarh are likely to be held in two phases, elections in the other states might see polling in one phase, they said.
The Congress raised questions on the "independence of ECI (Election Commission of India)" after the election body changed the timing of its press conference. The Election Commission said the press conference was moved to 3 pm to ensure that mediapersons could make it to the venue on time.
All major parties have already started making aggressive pitches ahead of the state elections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting BJP-ruled Rajasthan's Ajmer where he will hold a rally. The BJP won the 2013 Rajasthan elections, winning 163 of the 200 assembly seats.
Both BJP chief Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be in Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP has been in power since 2013. Mr Shah will formally launch the BJP's mass contact campaign in the crucial Malwa-Nimad region of Madhya Pradesh to woo voters especially traders, tribals and farmers.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi too will be on a day-long tour of Madhya Pradesh today, during which he will attend an event organised by a tribal organisation and also address a public meeting.
Earlier this week, Dalit powerhouse Mayawati gave a shocker to the Congress as she ruled out any alliance with the party in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Last month, she had ditched the party in Chhattisgarh. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief, however, left the window open for a tie-up in the 2019 national election, for which the opposition plans to join forces against the BJP.
The elections in Telangana were originally scheduled to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections next year. But, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had dissolved the state assembly on September 6, paving the way for early elections in the southern state.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress lost to the BJP in the 2013 elections as it could secure only 39 assembly seats out of the 90.
Mizoram, which has 40 assembly seats, is the only state in the northeast which is under the Congress rule.