Can’t postpone polls for full month: EC on Ramzan row

New Delhi: In wake of the controversy over Lok Sabha election schedule, the Election Commission on Monday said that it was not possible to postpone the polls for the full month of Ramzan, and underlined that main festival days and Fridays have been excluded.

“During Ramzan, polls are conducted as the full month cannot be excluded. However, the dates of main festival and Fridays are avoided for poll days,” an EC spokesperson said.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls are beginning from April 11 and will conclude on May 19. The counting will take place on May 23. Ramzan, when Muslims fast during the day, is likely to start on May 6 this year. As the Islamic months are based on lunar calendar, the month of Ramzan keeps shifting vis-a-vis the Gregorian calendar.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, while announcing the poll schedule on Sunday, said that the Commission had applied due diligence in working out the schedule and considered many factors including board examinations, festivals, etc.

“The Commission has consciously factored-in the examination schedules of various state education boards, including the Central Board of Secondary Education, in the process of finalizing the poll dates,” he said.

“In addition to this, other relevant factors like various holidays and festivals falling in the months of March, April and May, harvest season in certain parts of the country and the inputs obtained from the Indian Meteorological Department on the pre-monsoon rainfall, onset and spread of monsoon and acute hot weather conditions in certain parts of the country have also been taken into consideration.

“Thus, while deciding on the number of poll days for each state/ Union Territory and the composition of the constituencies that go to polls on a particular poll day, the Commission has, to the extent possible, taken all relevant aspects and information, related thereto, into view,” he added.

The row broke out after a few Muslim politicians including Firhad Hakim of Trinamool Congress and Amanatullah Khan of Aam Aadmi Party raised objections over polls being conducted during the holy month.

However, some other Muslim figures including AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi have said that there was nothing wrong in elections being held during Ramzan, holding that if Muslims can work while fasting, they could also vote and campaign while fasting.