New Delhi: Questioning the Lok Sabha election schedule, AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan on Monday alleged that the Election Commission (EC) fixed polling dates during Ramzan to favour BJP and said that it will arduous for those observing a fast to exercise their franchise.
Talking to ANI, Khan, an MLA from Okhla, said that the EC should have conducted the general elections in five phases and claimed that the electoral body “deliberately” planned the seven-phase schedule.
“Ramzan is going to begin from May 6. The EC should have conducted the polls in five phases instead of seven. They deliberately did this and brought three phases during Ramzan period. In these phases, the Muslim population, particularly in West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, will be in substantial numbers. It will be arduous for Muslims to exercise their franchise during that period,” he said.
Khan claimed that the schedule for Delhi, which is set to vote on May 12, has been kept in the sixth phase as BJP could lose all the seven Lok Sabha seats.
“They (EC) deliberately kept Delhi under sixth phase because they know that Muslims are a decisive vote bank and their voting will decide the electoral results. Muslims will not vote for BJP. They (BJP) will lose all the seven seats,” he said.
Khan claimed that if Muslims vote in less numbers, then it would favour BJP.
Urging the EC to change the dates so that it does not clash with Ramzan, he said, “If they say they are independent, then they should have conducted the polls before Ramzan. If the EC would have taken care of the sentiments of the Muslim community, then they should have done this. If it is fair and independent, the EC should change the election dates.”
Echoing similar sentiments, AAP leader Sanjay Singh called for the re-scheduling of the phases of the Lok Sabha polls during Ramzan.
“How will the Muslims turn up and vote if elections are being held during Ramzan. You (EC) are saying vote in large numbers, but how can those observing fast stand in long queues in the hot weather and vote. The EC needs to re-think,” Singh told ANI.
He said other communities would be greatly inconvenienced if their respective festivals clashed during the poll dates.
The Election Commission had on Sunday announced the schedule for Lok Sabha elections. The dates for the seven phases are April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. Counting of votes will be done on May 23.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP and lawyer KTS Tulsi said that if feasible, poll dates must be shifted to accommodate the period of fasting during Ramzan.
Speaking to ANI, Tulsi said, “If it is possible to shift the poll dates to accommodate the ‘roza’ dates, then the Election Commission may consider. I don’t know if it’s possible but if it’s feasible then it should be done.”
Trinamool Congress leader and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim has also questioned the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls, saying people observing Ramzan will be inconvenienced in Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
Hakim said, “The Election Commission is a constitutional body and we respect them. We don’t want to say anything against them. But the seven-phase election will be tough for people in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. It will be most difficult for those who will be observing Ramzan at that time.”
However, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday asked political parties not to create controversy on the issue of holding Lok Sabha polls during Ramzan and said there will be greater participation of Muslim community in the democratic exercise during that period.
Speaking to media persons, Owaisi said, “This whole controversy is totally uncalled for and unnecessary. I would request the political parties not to use the Muslim community and Ramzan. One must understand that Ramzan will start in India around May 5 depending on Moon sighting. In the country, the election process has to be completed by June 3. Hence, elections have to be there during the Ramzan. It is not possible to culminate elections by May 5.”
Asserting that Muslims, keeping fast during the holy month, continue with their regular schedule of work, Owaisi said: “Muslims will definitely fast in Ramzan and will keep doing their regular work during the fast. They go out and lead a normal life. They work and go to the office. My analysis is that this month which increases spiritualism in Muslims will lead to more voting percentage because I will be free from worldly duties.”
“Throughout India wherever the elections are being held during Ramzan, Muslims will vote in higher percentage and will defeat the evil forces,” he added.