The BJP and its allies Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) and SAD (Sanyukt) have appealed to the Election Commission to postpone the February 14 assembly election in Punjab in view of Guru Ravidas Jayanti, after the BSP and Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi made similar requests to the poll panel.
The birth anniversary of Guru Ravidas falls on February 16. In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner on Sunday seeking postponement of the election, Punjab BJP general secretary Subhash Sharma said, "The state has substantial population of followers of Guru Ravidas ji, including the Scheduled Caste (SC) community which is about 32 per cent of the population of Punjab."
"On this pious occasion, millions of the devotees would visit Banaras in Uttar Pradesh to celebrate the gurparb. So it would not be possible for them to participate in the voting process. It is therefore requested to your goodself that the date of voting may be postponed so that these voters of Punjab could participate in the election process," he wrote.
"Tens of thousands of people from Punjab visit Banaras every year around Guru Ravidas Jayanti,” said PLC general secretary Kamal Saini in a letter to the poll panel.
"Since elections are scheduled two days before Guru Ravidas Jayanti, many voters may be denied the chance to exercise the franchise as they will be away to Banaras for the annual pilgrimage,” Saini wrote. The PLC leader said it should not be difficult for the poll panel to reschedule the date for Punjab, as everything else will remain the same.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) chief Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, in a letter to the poll panel, also sought that the date of voting be postponed. On January 13, Chief Minister Channi had urged the Election Commission to postpone the polling date by six days “for enabling around 20 lakh SC devotees to utilise their right to vote for the state legislative assembly.”
A large number of SC devotees from the state are likely to visit Banaras in Uttar Pradesh from February 10 to 16. In such a situation, many people from this community would not be able to cast their votes for the state assembly, said Channi who belong to the SC community. Bahujan Samaj Party's Punjab chief Jasvir Singh Garhi was the first to demand postponement of the polling.
He requested the Election Commission to hold the polls on February 20, instead of February 14. Voting for Punjab's 117 assembly seats is scheduled for February 14 and the counting of votes will take place on March 10.
With inputs from PTI.