Indian parliamentary elections will be held in seven separate phases from April 11 to May 19 and the counting of votes will take place on May 23, the Election Commission announced today.

Nearly 900 million voters will be eligible to cast their votes, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told a media conference at Vigyan Bhavan this evening, compared to 814.5 million voters who were eligible in the previous national polls five years ago.

The number of first-time voters this time would be 1.5 crore, he said. The voters will elect 543 members of the Lok Sabha.

Arora said 17.4 lakh VVPATs will be available with EVMs in all the one million polling centres to be set up across the country. Last time, there were a total of nine lakh polling centres.

He said all EVMs will carry the pictures of the candidates in order to help voters make an informed choice of the person he or she is going to vote.

The CEC said the Commission has made comprehensive arrangements, including security, for ensuring “free, fair, inclusive, participatory and accessible and festival parliamentary elections.”

He said the election schedule has been drawn up factoring in examination dates, various festivals in states and harvesting seasons.

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