Poll schedule during Ramazan will inconvenience Muslims, says Trinamool Congress leader Firhad Hakim

With the Election Commission of India (ECI) announcing the schedule of the general elections in April-May, 42 constituencies in West Bengal along with the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh will vote in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. That the dates coincide with the holy month of Ramazan has raised eyebrows in Trinamool Congress ranks.

Speaking to the media, the mayor of Kolkata and Trinamool Congress leader Firhad Hakim stated that the scheduled will clash with Ramazan – the Muslim month of fasting. It would make the voting process ‘unnecessarily difficult for Muslims everywhere’ he stated. He said that the seven phases were a torture for the people, an undue pressure on all the stakeholders in the election process, especially the voter.

West Bengal experiences harsh summers – the months of April and May being the worst, especially in the districts like Midnapur, Jhargram and Purulia where the day temperatures often graze the mid forties in the Celsius scale at the height of summer. Voters’ turnout during this time is likely to be impacted by the overhead sun.

‘Seven phases over the hottest weeks’ made ‘no sense’, added the Kolkata mayor. He also found it ‘an insult to the state’ that West bengal has been clubbed with states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh which have a known history of poll-related violence. Calling it an ‘undue pressure’ on the ‘biggest stakeholder’ – the voter, Firhad Hakim expressed his displeasure at the election schedule in no uncertain terms.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has welcomed the seven-phase election schedule of West Bengal stating that it reflects the poor law and order situation in the state. BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha stated that the matter of holding elections during Ramazan had ‘reached the Supreme  Court in the past and the court did not turn it down’.

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