Lok Sabha Elections 2019 Dates Row: Full Ramzan Month Cannot be Excluded, Says Election Commission
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora (Photo Credits: IANS)

New Delhi, March 11: After a political row erupted over dates for seven-phase Lok Sabha elections 2019 that are coinciding with Ramzan or Ramadan (May 5-June 4, 2019), the Election Commission (EC) on Monday said it cannot exclude the entire month from the schedule. The Election Commission said it avoided conducting polls on Fridays and date of the main festival.

"During Ramadan, polls are conducted as a full month cannot be excluded. However, the date of main festival and Fridays are avoided for poll days," said the Election Commission, as reported by news agency ANI. Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor Firhad Hakim questioned the Election Commission for holding general elections during Ramadan.

Accusing the poll panel of stopping minorities from exercising their franchise, Hakim said the lengthy schedule of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, will be arduous for those observing Ramzan in the states of Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. "EC has announced the poll dates on Ramzan so that minorities are unable to cast their votes," the TMC leader said. Check Full Schedule of Lok Sabha Elections 2019.

AAP MLA from Delhi Amanatullah Khan said Lok Sabha elections schedule coinciding with Ramadan will benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "Delhi will vote on May 12 during Ramzan. Muslims will vote in fewer numbers, benefitting the BJP," Khan tweeted. Similar apprehensions were raised by supporters of the Congress party.

AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, however, called the entire controversy 'unnecessary'. Calling out opposition parties for objecting to voting for Lok Sabha polls during Ramzan period, Asaduddin Owaisi said polling percentage will go up during the holiest month of Islamic calendar. "Muslims will definitely fast in Ramzan. They go out and lead a normal life. My analysis is that this month (Ramzan) will lead to more voting percentage because one will be free from all worldly duties," Owaisi said.

Earlier on Sunday, the Congress had alleged that the Election Commission wanted to announce the dates for Lok Sabha election on March 4 but delayed it due to the inauguration programmes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The EC on Sunday announced the schedule for Lok Sabha elections 2019. 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.