Punjab Assembly Polls Postponed Over Guru Ravidas Jayanti, Voting Now on 20 Feb
The Election Commission of India (ECI) made the announcement on Monday after a meeting was held to discuss the same.
The Election Commission of India on Monday, 17 January, changed the date of polling in Punjab, originally scheduled for 14 February, to 20 February, after requests from several political parties due to Guru Ravidas Jayanti celebrations, which are held around the same time.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) made the announcement on Monday after a meeting was held in New Delhi to discuss the same.
The new dates pertinent for the elections are as follows:
Date of notification: 25 January
Last date of nomination: 1 February
Date of scrutiny: 2 February
Date of withdrawal: 4 February
Date of poll: 20 February
Counting of votes: 10 March
The EC meeting was called after Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi, the Punjab BJP, and Amarinder Singh's Punjab Lok Congress urged the poll body to reschedule the elections.
They noted that members of the Scheduled Castes community, which comprises of 32 percent of the state's population, travel to Varanasi from 10-16 February to mark Guru Ravidas Jayanti on 16 February.
"Commission has received several representations from the state government, political parties, and other organizations drawing attention regarding movement of a large number of devotees from Punjab to Varanasi for participation in Sri Guru Ravidas Ji Jayanti celebrations, which is observed on 16 February.Election Commission
"They have also brought to the notice that a large number of devotees start moving for Varanasi around a week before the day of celebration and keeping the poll day on 14 February 2022 will deprive a large number of electors from voting," the EC added.
"After considering these new facts emerging out of these representations, inputs from the state government and Chief Electoral Officer, past precedence and all facts and circumstances in the matter, now commission has decided to reschedule the elections," the EC stated.
CM Channi, Sidhu Welcome Postponement
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi reacted to the development, saying that he had written to the Election Commission of India requesting them to postpone the Punjab Assembly polls, in view of the celebrations.
"I am thankful to ECI that they accepted the request and extended the poll date," CM Channi said, according to news agency ANI.
Reacting to the Election Commission of India's announcement, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Navjot Singh Sidhu said, "We welcome ECI's decision to postpone the Punjab Assembly election."
"When a huge number of people make a demand which is related to their religion and the Election Commission of India listens to them, it becomes a decision that respects and honours the voice of the people," Sidhu added.
Meanwhile, former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh took to Twitter to welcome the decision, saying it would facilitate devotees' pilgrimage to Varanasi and that they could now vote after returning.
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