By ARUNPRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 10 Mar: Polling in Uttarakhand for the LokSabha elections will be held in the first phase itself on 11 April. The Election Commission of India today announced a seven phase polling schedule. The polling dates announced are 11 April, 19 April, 23 April, 29 April, 6 May, 12 May and 19 May. Counting of votes will begin on 23 May and most of the results and indications will be out on that day itself. In Uttarakhand, the polling will be held in a single phase on 11 April along with 86 other seats across the country! In UP, polling will be held on just 8 seats on 11 April along with Uttarakhand. There are 5 LokSabha seats in Uttarakhand, namely, Tehri, Pauri, Haridwar, Nainital and Almora. Almora seat is reserved for SC candidates, while others are unreserved. Part of Dehradun area presently falls in Tehri seat while the remaining falls in Haridwar seat. In the 2014 polls, BJP emerged as a clear winner, winning all the five seats in sharp contrast to the 2009 polls when it was whitewashed by Congress and had lost all the five seats. Hence, Uttarakhand is proving to be a difficult state to predict the outcome. Usually, the pollsters predict 3-2 in favour of one party or the other, but the actual outcome can be very difficult. Now that the polling is to be held on 11 April in Uttarakhand, there is just one month to go for the polling. So far, the campaigning has not even warmed up in the state. There is not much progress either in selection of candidates by the two major parties. Congress has since last time seen several prominent and senior party leaders switching loyalty to the BJP. While senior Congress leader and former MP and former Union Minister SatpalMaharaj had switched over to the BJP just before the 2014 polls, others like Vijay Bahuguna, had switched over to the BJP in 2016. Congress will therefore have to rely on other faces to contest the general elections here. BJP too has its own set of problems. Veteran MP from Pauri, Lt Gen BC Khanduri is 84 years old already while the Nainital MP, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari is 76 years old. Both have expressed in the past, desire to quit active politics and it remains to be seen who replaces them or they are forced again by the party to contest the LokSabha polls. It is almost certain that RP Nishank will be contesting from Haridwar. There is some speculation over replacing Tehri MP Mala RajyaLaxmi since many feel that she has been rather ineffective as MP in this term! However there is not much time for the parties to choose their candidates. Congress today held its meeting of the state screening committee in New Delhi with all the members including Harish Rawat, PCC Chief Pritam Singh and Leader of the Opposition remaining present. Model Code of conduct has also come in force throughout the country along with the announcement of the poll schedule.