The schedule for the Telangana panchayat elections has been announced Tuesday by the Telangana State Election Commission, which will be carried out without the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
The elections will be held in three phases on January 21, 25 and 30.
The Telangana state election commissioner, V Nagireddy announced that polling would be held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and vote counting would begin from 2 p.m. on the same day. With the announcement of the panchayat elections, the Model Code of Conduct has come into immediate effect and will be in place until the election process is out-and-out.
In the first phase of elections, 2,280 panchayats will go to polls and another 4,137 panchayats will go to polls in the second phase, while the third phase will witness 4,115 panchayats.
The state election commission will begin the election process for the first phase from January 7. Election work for the second phase will commence on January 11 and the third phase on January 16 respectively, said Nagireddy.
"As the election code comes into force, the government should not announce any new schemes and no official tours can be done. We have prepared the voters list in May 2018. There are about 1.49 Cr voters in the state. The polling will be done on ballot papers. The option of NOTA will also be available in the papers. The ballot paper will be in white and pink colors. About 1.5 lakh staff will be geared up to ensure smooth functioning of Panchayat elections," said Nagireddy.
This will be the state's first panchayat election since the formation of Telangana after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. The elections come after the present term of gram panchayats ended on August 1 and the Hyderabad High Court's order to hold polls before January 2019.
Even though panchayat elections are not supposed to be fought using political party symbols, the political parties in Telangana will be viewing this election to gauge the mood of the public for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, to be held in April or May.
The panchayat election will also be the first time that KT Rama Rao, the newly appointed working president of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), will be overseeing an election.