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Lok Sabha elections to begin from April 19, will be held in 7 phases; results on June 4

New Delhi:

The 2024 general election for 543 Lok Sabha seats will be held in seven phases that will begin from April 19 and continue till June 1, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said today, announcing the commencement of the world’s largest democratic exercise in which the BJP would attempt to win a third consecutive term in power. The results of the election will be announced on June 4.

Simultaneous election for Lok Sabha and assembly will be held in four states — Sikkim, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Andhra PradeshJammu and Kashmir, which has been under President’s Rule since 2018, was not on the list.

Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held soon after the Lok Sabha polls, Mr Kumar said. Simultaneous election was not viable due to shortage of security personnel, he added, pointing out that the Commission has to provide security to every member who would contest in the assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

By-elections will also be held for 26 assembly seats across multiple states, including Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

Mr Kumar, announcing the dates, sent out a strong message on the circulation of fake news on social media, saying political parties should ensure responsible social media behaviour — “verify before you amplify”.

“Fake news will be dealt with severely as per existant laws.. Section 79 (3)(B) of the IT Act empowers nodal officers in each state to remove unlawful content,” he said.

The other strong message was on violation of model code in terms of hate speeches. “There should be issue-based campaign, no hate speeches, no speeches along caste or religious lines, no criticism of anyone’s personal lives,” he said.

The media must clarify when they carry political adverts, those cannot masquerade as news, he said. Individual messages regarding this would be sent to the candidates, he added.

The commission has employed 2,100 advisors to keep an eye on these issues and strong action will be taken regarding this, he said.

Voters above the age of 85 years and persons with disabilities, with 40 per cent disability can vote from home, Mr Kumar said. Around 82 lakh voter are above the age of 85, he said.

The announcement of election come days after Election Commissioner Arun Goel quit, leaving the three-member Commission with only the Chief Election Commissioner.

Asked about the matter, Mr Kumar said, “Arun was a very distinguished member of the team and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. But in every institution, one must be given personal space. So if he has given personal reasons, respect it”.

On Thursday, a committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi named two retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers — Sukhbir Singh Sandhu and Gyanesh Kumar – as Election Commissioners. They took oath the next day.

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