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The Election Commission will take a call on the dates of Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand, due early next year, based on the inputs provided by security forces and state law and order machinery, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said on Wednesday. He said the schedule will be finalised keeping in mind the weather and examination schedule. "We are trying to assess the requirement of security forces, climate and exam schedule - all these inputs are being taken into consideration.
Only then we will be able to say whether they will be staggered or multi-phase," the CEC told reporters on the sidelines of an event. To another question on the subject, he said, "As far as the schedule is concerned, the Commission has not given a thought as yet." While the term of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly ends in May next, the terms of assemblies of Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand will end in March, 2017. Against the backdrop of Ram temple issue hogging the limelight in Uttar Pradesh again, he was asked whether he thinks the Commission should be given powers to prevent political parties from making statements in poll-bound states where elections have not yet been announced. Skirting the issue, Zaidi said once the polls are announced and the model code comes enforce, the EC will ensure its compliance in letter and spirit. "EC has in the past ensured strict compliance of the model code and will ensure the same in future too," he said. Terming use of money power a "matter of concern", the CEC said in the last elections, it was a matter of concern and in the coming polls too there is feedback that there is possibility of misuse of money power. "We have a strategy and we are making it more robust," he said, adding that the poll watchdog has already written to the government to make bribery an electoral offence.