Setting the stage for the high-stakes battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in at least three states ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year, the Election Commission on Saturday announced the schedule for Assembly elections in five states, including Telangana, between 12 November and 7 December. Counting of votes in all the states will be done on 11 December, Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said announcing the schedule at a press conference here.

Voting will be held in a single phase in Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana on 28 November and 7 December respectively, while Chhattisgarh will have a two-phased election on 12 and 20 November. The BJP and the Congress will face head-on in Madhya Pradesh (230 seats), Rajasthan (200) and Chattisgarh (90), where the saffron party is in power, while in Telangana (119), the ruling TRS is seeking a second term. In Mizoram (40), Congress is the ruling party.

The BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for three consecutive terms, while in Rajasthan power alternates between the two parties every election. The Model Code of Conduct comes into force with immediate effect in four states, while in Telangana it was in force from the date of dissolution of the Assembly last month.

S. Rama Krishna adds from Hyderabad: The EC’s decision to hold polls in Telangana on 7 December along with four other states has disappointed the ruling TRS, while the Opposition, which is still to stitch together a grand alliance, has been caught unawares. The counting of votes for all the five states will be taken up together on 11 December, thus denying anyone advantage. The model of code for other states came into effect from 6 October, but it is in force in Telangana since last week. TRS president and caretaker Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has lobbied hard to complete the election process in Telangana by the end of November—preferably between 21 and 24 November—so that his winning chances become brighter as he is a firm believer of astrology.

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