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`Elections any day after April 17'

By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, FEB. 25. The Election Commission today indicated that the first phase of elections to the Lok Sabha and four State Assemblies could begin any day after April 17, when school examinations would conclude. The Deputy Election Commissioner, A.N. Jha, told presspersons here that

details of various Board and competitive examinations across the country had been collected for finalising the schedule.

He refused to give the exact date but said the poll process would begin only after April 17, as the availability of school buildings was important for deciding the schedule. The Commission would also consider requests from some States to hold Assembly byelections, he said.

Mr. Jha said `helplines' would be set up in all the State headquarters, after the poll schedule was announced, to help voters locate their names in the electoral rolls and identify the polling booths.

All eligible voters could get their names included before the last date of nominations if they had already enrolled.

He said the voters in Jammu and Kashmir would get identity cards made from special paper prepared at the Nasik Security Press. Already 55 per cent of them had been covered.

On use of Government aircraft for electioneering, Mr. Jha said the Commission had issued special instructions a few years ago because of the position enjoyed by the Prime Minister. "The matter has now been well settled" and there was no question of reconsidering it now, he said.

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