The Election Commission of India (ECI), an autonomous constitutional body, will be administering all aspects of these elections.
The ECI was established on January 25, 1950, with the aim of conducting free and fair elections in the world's largest democracy. Let's understand its role.
Model Code of Conduct for campaigns comes into effect
The Election Commission's Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into effect immediately after its January 4 announcement of election dates for the five states.
The MCC is a list of voluntary dos and don'ts for all political parties, candidates and governments.
The MCC is not governed by any statute and violations can lead to a rap in the knuckles by the ECI.
Rules for candidates and political parties
Candidates appearing on television programmes on channels owned by their party will be considered a poll expense.
Candidates must include photos in nomination-papers which will be displayed on electronic voting-machines.
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Did you know?
UP, Punjab Uttarakhand, Manipur, and Goa together have nearly 167.3 million eligible voters. That's more than the combined population of France, UK and Canada! UP alone has an electorate of 138.5 million.
How electronic voting machines changed polls
Electronic voting machines (EVM), first introduced in 1998, will be used in all states in the upcoming elections.
Their use sharply reduced instances of "booth capturing" prevalent during the 1980s and 1990s.
The use of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) alongside EVMs in sensitive constituencies is being increased.
VVPAT will help voters verify if their ballot is correctly cast.
ECI to implement SC order on religion, caste in polls
The January 4, 2016, Supreme Court order against use of religion, race, caste, community or language in the electoral process will be strictly implemented by the ECI.
No schemes for poll-bound states in Budget: EC
Hours after the Supreme Court rejected a plea seeking the postponement of the Union Budget, the Election Commission too, cleared the way for the government.
EC forbade the central government from announcing any schemes specific to poll-bound states "which may have the effect of influencing the electors in favour of the ruling party."
According to the EC, doing so would disturb the level-playing field.
EC to RBI: Increase withdrawal limits for election candidates
The Election Commission has asked the RBI to increase the weekly cash withdrawal limits for candidates in the upcoming polls in 5 states to Rs.2 lakh from Rs.24,000.
The EC argued that the RBI's cap affected the candidates ability to fund their election campaigns.
They recommended opening special accounts for elections, and that the increased limit be allowed till March 11.
EC gives conditional approval for 'Mann Ki Baat'
The Election Commission has given a conditional approval for the next episode of PM Modi's Mann ki Baat radio show.
The EC said it should not violate the Model Code of Conduct and nothing should be said to influence voters in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.
The EC also cleared the pre-broadcast publicity for the show.
EC-RBI tussle over withdrawal limits
The Election Commission and the RBI are embroiled in a tussle over the EC's request to increase the withdrawal limits for candidates in the state elections.
The EC cited its "absolute powers" under Article 324 of the Constitution to issue directives for free and fair conduct of polls.
However, the RBI argued that increasing specific withdrawal limits was neither desirable nor possible.
EC: Don't bring religion into political campaigns
The election commission has issued a clarification to all political parties to abstain from using religious undertones during their election campaign speeches. It advised leaders to observe "self-imposed restraint" while campaigning.
The EC said it "noted a disturbing tendency of inflammatory statements...with underlying object of mixing religion with election campaign."
The EC asked political leaders to refrain from influencing masses based on religion.