bbc: assembly elections wil begin in five indian states in february, the election commission of india has announced. voting wil be held in uttar pradesh, goa, punjab, uttarakhand and manipur, chief election commissioner nasim zaidi said. poling wil be held from 4 february to 8 march. votes wil be counted on 11 march. analysts say that the effect of the rupee ban is expected to play a crucial role in al five state elections. the government said the ban on 500 and 1,000 rupee notes was to curb corruption and the illegal billboard of wealth as wel as promote a shift to digital modes of payment. however, critics said the ban mostly impacted the poor and agrarian communities who largely depend on cash for their daily transactions. mr zaidi said a total of 160 million voters would be eligible to cast their votes in the five states. voting wil be held in india’s most populous state, uttar pradesh in seven phases on 11, 15, 19, 23, 27 february as wel as 4 and 8 march. a victory in this state wil be crucial to india’s ruling bjp, but they wil be up against two strong regional parties, the samajwadi party (sp) which currently rules the state and the bahujan samajwadi party (bsp), which is led by dalit icon and former chief minister mayawati. the north-eastern state of manipur wil go to polls in two phases on 4 and 8 march. the western state of goa and the northern state of punjab wil vote in a one-way phase on 4 february while the northern state of uttarakhand wil go to polls on 15 february, along with parts of uttar pradesh, which it borders. goa is currently ruled by the bjp while india’s main opposition party congress governs manipur and uttarakhand. punjab is ruled by an alliance between the bjp and the regional shiromani akali dal (sad) party. mr zaidi said that steps were being taken to encourage the participation of women in al five state elections. some poling booths wil be entirely staffed by women, and separate facilities wil be provided for them in areas where there is reluctance to mingle with men. the elections wil also be disabled friendly with wheelchairs and ramps provided at booths for those who need them.