The Election Commission announced the poll dates of four states: West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam, and one Union Territory: Puducherry on Friday at New Delhi.
Phase 1: April 4, Phase 2 April 11
Phase 1: April 4, April 11
Phase 2: April 17
Phase 3: April 21
Phase 4: April 25
Phase5: April 30
Phase 6: May 5
Kerala: May 16
Tamil Nadu: May 16
Puducherry: May 16
Counting of votes of all states: May 19
Result day: May 21
As in Bihar elections, the Election Commission also announced use of candidate photos along with party symbol to avoid confusion amongst voters.
The EC also announced of security personnel presence at polling stations across Assam and West Bengal.
Another first in the polls will be a symbol for NOTA, designed by the National Institute of Design.
— PIB India (@PIB_India) March 4, 2016
The terms of the state assemblies are scheduled to terminate in April-May with polling likely to be held in minimum five to six phases until mid-May.
While regional parties Trinamool Congress and AIADMK are at the helm in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively, the Congress and its allies rule Assam and Kerala. Puducherry is ruled by the AINRC.
Of the five states, the BJP is expected to have a chance of winning only in Assam, where the Tarun Gogoi government is in power. BJP had done well in the state in both the 2014 Lok Sabha poll as well as the subsequent local polls.
In Tamil Nadu, chief minister Jayalalitha will fight DMK, which has tied up with the Congress.
However, the BJP is yet to stitch an alliance with DMDK, led by Vijaykanth. A direct fight between UDF and LDF will pan out in Kerala, though BJP will seek to cash in the resentment against the two fronts and emerge as a third alternative.
This round of assembly polls is set to see a heavy deployment of Central forces, mostly in West Bengal. The EC had sought 700-800 companies, comprising around 70,000-80,000 personnel, from the Union home ministry to stand guard over the polls.
Though the home ministry conveyed its limitation in sparing such a large number of forces, a final meeting ground was worked out through several rounds of consultation between senior EC and home ministry officials over this week.
The model code of conduct will come into immediate force soon after the announcement of the poll schedule.
In 2011, the five states had gone to polls over six phases between April 18 and May 10, with counting held on May 13.
(With agencies input)