A war of words broke out between the BJP and Opposition parties on Monday over Lok Sabha elections being held during the month of Ramzan. The first to flag the matter was AAP leader Amanatullah Khan, who said that holding elections during Ramzan will cause inconvenience to Muslims and directly benefit the BJP.
“There will be less polling among Muslims, and it will directly benefit the BJP,” Khan tweeted on Sunday. Khan’s views were also echoed by some leaders of the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, PTI reported.
12 मई का दिन होगा दिल्ली में रमज़ान होगा मुसलमान वोट कम करेगा इसका सीधा फायदा बीजेपी को होगा।
— Amanatullah Khan AAP (@KhanAmanatullah) March 10, 2019
The seven-phase Lok Sabha elections will be held from April 11 to May 19 and the results will be declared on May 23. Ramzan is expected to commence either on May 5 or 6, depending on the sighting of the moon, and lasts about 29 days.
The Election Commission clarified that elections were conducted during Ramzan as an entire month cannot be excluded from the schedule. “However, dates of main festivals and Fridays are avoided as poll days,” it said.
Lashing out at the Opposition, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said it was a “communal” ploy to divide the country ahead of the elections. He pointed out at Navratas, when many Hindus observe fast, will also fall during the elections.
“Muslims do not observe Roza by not doing their work. Islam also does not ask us to stop our work for worship. It is not that people who have jobs do not attend them during Ramzan. They keep Roza and do their work as well,” PTI quoted Hussain as saying.
Taking a dig at AAP, Union Minister Vijay Goel Monday said the Arvind Kejriwal-led party was deliberately triggering a row as it had already accepted its defeat in Delhi.
“AAP has accepted its defeat in Delhi. AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan spoke about Ramzan affecting elections. Festivals are celebrated every day in India and in this country he is talking about such a thing. Ramzan is just an excuse, they have accepted their defeat,” he said.
While Congress leader Digvijaya Singh offered a guarded response on the issue, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the coinciding of Lok Sabha polls with Ramzan would not hamper poll percentage.
Singh said the Election Commission should, if possible, change the voting time so as to avoid inconvenience to Muslims observing Ramzan fast.
“I pray to the Election Commission that even if it does not change the election date, make a change in voting time in such a way so that it facilitates voting (among Muslims),” Singh said.
Owaisi said it was an insult to Muslims to say Ramzan would affect voting while stating that elections were a constitutional obligation and should go on as scheduled.
“They say poll percentage will come down because they are fasting. That is all rubbish. I am confident that the spirituality of Muslims will increase during Ramzan. On the contrary, poll per cent will go up. In Ramzan, Shaitan is enchained – inshallah one will use their vote to defeat his agents,” Owaisi told reporters.