Lok Sabha Elections on April 16? No, there is more to the viral circular

The dates announced are just tentative dates for better preparedness for the elections.
(Source: Social media Screenshot)
(Source: Social media Screenshot)

An internal note circulated by the office of Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer having April 16 as the tentative "poll date" to help officials schedule various activities "in the build up" to the Lok Sabha elections created a flutter among journalists and social media users about the possible schedule of the upcoming polls. The letter mentions that the tentative  poll date of the Lok Sabha elections is to be April 16, 2024.

The circular is addressed to the District Election Officers of 11 districts in Delhi. It has a subject that reads, "Compliance/adhering to the timelines given in the Election Planner of the Election Commission of India -regarding."

The letter also suggests that, for the timely conduct of the election process, a tentative poll date has been announced for a better calculation of the start and end dates of the election planner. 

The circular gained the instant attention of many social media handles, who started sharing it and claimed that the election commission had announced the dates of the Lok Sabha elections 2024.

However, later, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi clarified that the letter that went viral on social media only mentions the tentative date of the elections and only for the purpose of advance planning and preparations. 

In a statement issued on January 23, the office of the Delhi CEO clarified that in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, "it is required to plan and complete a large number of activities pertaining to election". "ECI Planner enlists all such important activities and provides Start date and End date with reference to an imaginary poll date as reference point to initiate and complete those activities," it said.

Therefore, the date mentioned as tentative poll date in the letter was "only for reference purpose" for the election officials and "has no bearing on the actual schedule of election" which shall be announced by ECI at an appropriate time, the statement said.

One of the activities started by the EC recently is awareness campaign about electronic voting machines.

According to EC's standing instructions, state Chief Electoral Officers need to start a focussed awareness campaign approximately three months prior to the announcement of election -- for this purpose the date of announcement of the last election may be considered.

In 2019, Lok Sabha polls were announced on March 10 and were held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. Votes were counted on May 23.

(With Inputs from PTI)

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