Elections during Ramzan would be problematic: TMC-leader's statement sparks row
On Monday, Kolkata Mayor and TMC leader Firhad Hakim expressed displeasure at the general election dates announced by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, as it clashes with Ramzan. Hakim was of the opinion that many Muslims might not be able to cast their votes. However, several BJP leaders and AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi criticized the statement. Here's what the controversy is all about.
West Bengal will cast votes in all seven phases. The state has 31% of Muslim voters and it will be a key issue in the general elections. While noting TMC respects the EC, Hakim said, "The seven-phase election will be tough for people in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. It'll be most difficult for those who will be observing Ramzan at that time."
Ramzan is a holy month in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. The 30-day event comes to an end on Eid-ul-Fitr. The fast, especially during summers would, of course, be difficult. About this, Hakim said, "The minority population in these three states is quite high. They will be casting votes while observing 'Roza'. EC should have kept this in mind."
This isn't the first time TMC leaders have raked the Ramzan issue. During the last panchayat elections, which happened in May, Partha Chatterjee met West Bengal election commissioner AK Singh requesting him to conclude the polls before the holy month starts. But Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of AIMIM, felt controversy is unwarranted. He asked parties to not use Muslims or Ramzan as an excuse.
"Muslims will definitely fast in Ramzan, they go out and lead a normal life, they go to office, even the poorest of the poor will also fast. My analysis is that Ramzan will lead to more voting percentage because one will be free from all worldly duties," said Owaisi.
BJP's All-India secretary, minority morcha, Arshad Alam, also criticized TMC's stand. Alam said, "It's not written anywhere in Islam that one has to take rest in air-conditioned rooms while fasting during Ramzan. For us, Ramzan means 'Ibadat' under any circumstances." Alam also said a "true Muslim" will keep fast and complete their duties by voting. He also slammed leaders for dragging Ramzan in elections.
Notably, the Election Commission also berated the controversy and said the entire month cannot be excluded. "During Ramzan, polls are conducted as a full month cannot be excluded. However, the date of the main festival and Fridays are avoided for poll days," EC said. Earlier, Arora said the EC took into account exam dates, festivals and harvest season before deciding the dates.