Punjab elections postponed to February 20 after leaders' appeal
The Election Commission of India on Monday said the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab have been postponed by six days. Voting will be done on February 20, instead of the originally decided date of February 14. The EC's decision came after prominent leaders from several political parties requested the poll panel to defer the voting in view of a major Sikh festival.
Why does this story matter?
Top political leaders in Punjab had requested a deferment of the elections, considering the Guru Ravidas Jayanti, which will be observed on February 16. Members of the Scheduled Castes (SC) community, who comprise nearly 32% of the state population, are expected to visit Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh around that time. The schedule for Punjab election was announced on January 8.
Punjab CM, BJP leaders requested deferment
Several political parties, including the ruling Congress, had raised the postponement request. "Many people from this community would not be able to cast their votes for the state assembly, which is otherwise their constitutional right (sic)," Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said in a letter to the EC. Subhash Sharma, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Punjab, also made a similar appeal.
'Sentiments of lakhs will be appreciated'
"Lakhs of people go to Banaras to pay their respects...Keeping this in mind, if the Election Commission postpones the Punjab elections by a week, then the sentiments of lakhs of people will be appreciated," the Aam Aadmi Party's Punjab unit chief Bhagwant Mann had tweeted.
The political scene in Punjab
Elections in Punjab will be held in a single phase, and results will be declared on March 10. The state is set to witness a multifaceted contest. The Congress is fighting to retain power while AAP has set its eyes on expanding power out of Delhi. The BJP has partnered with former CM Amarinder Singh and the Akali Dal has allied with the BSP.