The Election Commission of India has moved the date of Assembly Elections in Punjab from February 16 to February 20 on account of Guru Ravidas Jayanti celebrations which will be held in the state on February 10-16. The Commission announced the decision after representatives of various political parties and members of the SC community submitted the request to delay polls.
In a statement today, the Election Commission said several political parties, the Punjab government and other organisations have sought the polls to be deferred. "...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 Election Commission said.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi sent across a letter to the Commission, requesting the national electoral body to postpone the assembly polls "for enabling around 2,000,000 SC devotees to utilise their right to vote" in Punjab.
On Guru Ravidas Jayanti, the majority of celebrants from the SC population in Punjab would visit Varanasi on holy pilgrimage from February 10-16 which meant that many would not be able to vote in the assembly polls, the request submitted to the Commission said. Scheduled Castes communities comprise 32% of Punjab's population.
The BJP and its allies including the Punjab Lok Congress led by former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had also requested the Election Commission to defer the February 14 election in Punjab.
Preparations in the state are well underway with the ruling Congress having released a list of candidates for the election. State Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu will contest from the Amritsar East seat, while incumbent Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi will contest the upcoming elections from Chamkaur Sahib (SC) seat.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said it would announce its CM candidate after compiling the results of a people's poll. AAP leader Harpal Singh Cheema, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Legislative Assembly said that during the last 72 hours, more than 5.5 lakh WhatsApp messages, 6.7 lakh phone calls, 1.5 lakh texts, and1.5 lakh voice messages have been received on the party's number.