2019 general Election: Muslim cleric wants poll dates shifted for Ramzan

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday Photo: PTI
A prominent Sunni cleric has expressed dismay over the Election Commission of India (ECI)'s announcement of polling dates for the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, claiming that the voting is scheduled for the holy month of Ramzan in May.

The Imam of the revered Lucknow-based Aishbagh Eidgah, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, has urged the ECI to ‘respect’ the sentiments of Muslims and shift the dates of polling scheduled for May 6, 12 and 19, since Ramzan, the fasting month of Muslims, was expected to begin on May 6.

He claimed the moon sighting for Ramzan would be done on May 5 and if sighted, the month of Ramzan would begin from the following date, that is, May 6.

“The voting dates falling on May 6, 12 and 19 would hence fall during the fasting period and subject Muslims to ‘extraordinary’ hardships,” he said in a statement here last night.

The Maulana, who is a respected Muslim religious leader in the country, has suggested the ECI to either pre-pone the elections scheduled for these three dates or postpone them for a date after Eid, which marks the culmination of the fasting month of Ramzan.

“We will make a formal representation to the ECI in this regard both in written and email form,” Mahali told Business Standard here this afternoon.

Last evening, the ECI, in a news conference in New Delhi, had announced the general elections would be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19, while the counting of votes would begin on May 23.

Voting in the big states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal would be spread across all the seven phases. The votes would be cast on April 11, 18, 23 and 29 and May 6, 12 and 19, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told newspersons.

Some states such as Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha would also witness simultaneous voting for their respective assemblies. While, Jammu and Kashmir would witness Lok Sabha voting, but there would be no assembly elections in the valley owing to security reasons.

UP accounts for the maximum number of 80 Lok Sabha seats and holds the key to any party hoping to form the government at the Centre. Over the past few weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had showered a pre-poll bonanza on UP worth almost Rs 2 trillion with whirlwind tours of Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, and Kanpur, Ghaziabad and Noida.

While, Congress has released its first list of candidates in UP, including party president Rahul Gandhi and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has declared the candidature of party patriarch and former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri. However, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has yet not released its list of candidates.

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