Punjab polls pushed back to February 20 to avoid clash with Guru Ravidas Jayanti
Polling in Punjab was earlier scheduled for February 14. Political parties had told the EC that many voters could miss polling if it were held just two days before Guru Ravidas Jayanti
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission of India on Monday rescheduled the assembly polls in Punjab to February 20 after political parties requested the poll panel to slot it until after the festival of Guru Ravidas Jayanti, which will be celebrated on February 16.
Polling in Punjab was earlier scheduled for February 14. Political parties had told the EC that many voters could miss polling if it were held just two days before Guru Ravidas Jayanti.
”They have brought to notice that a large number of devotees start moving for Varanasi around a week before the day of the celebration, and keeping the poll day on February 14, 2022 will deprive a large number of electors from voting,” the EC said in a statement. “[Following] inputs from the state government and the chief electoral officer, past precedence, and [considering] all facts and circumstances in the matter, the commission has decided to reschedule [the polls].”
Guru Ravidas Jayanti is a festival that is popular among the Dalit community, which makes up more than 30% of Punjab’s electorate at the coming elections.
A senior official said that initially the EC felt that scheduling the polls two days before the festival would be appropriate, but Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi pointed out that many devotees would be travelling to Varanasi just before polling day.
Channi sent across a letter, requesting the national electoral body to postpone the assembly polls “for enabling around 2,000,000 SC devotees to utilise their right to vote” in Punjab.
The Punjab CM’s plea was followed by similiar requests by the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Bhartiya Janata Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and other parties contesting the elections in the state.
The counting day for the Punjab polls remains the same for all, which is March 10.