Replying to the objections raised by Trinamool and Aam Aadmi Party against the Lok Sabha election schedule coinciding with Ramzan, the Election Commission said on Monday that it was impossible to exclude this fasting month of Muslims from the election period as it goes on for a month.
“During Ramzan, polls are conducted as full month cannot be excluded. However, date of main festivals and Fridays are avoided for poll days,” said an EC official.
The polls will be held from April 11 to May 19, followed by counting on May 23, while Ramzan is expected to commence either on May 5 or 6, depending on sighting of the moon. It lasts about 29 days.
Leaders of TMC and AAP have claimed that polls during the holy month will inconvenience fasting Muslims, largely seen to be backing the opposition parties, and help the ruling BJP.
An EC official said reaching a polling booth, queuing up and voting takes only a little effort and time, since polling stations are located near one’s place of residence. Also, the polling day is usually a holiday, at least in government offices and institutions. It is also not unusual for Muslims to carry on with their normal routine during Ramzan.
TMC leader and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim, questioning the Ramzan overlap and the seven-phase schedule for UP, Bihar and Bengal, contended, “BJP doesn’t want minorities to cast their votes. Minority population in these three states is quite high. But we aren’t worried. People are committed to ‘BJP hatao, desh bachao!”
AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh also termed the schedule unfair. “How will Muslims participate in big numbers while they will be on fast. Does EC even lack this much of common sense,” he bluntly asked.
The elections will run from April 11 till May 19, while Ramzan is expected to begin either on May 5 or 6.