- Voting for Punjab's 117 assembly seats is scheduled for Feb 14 & counting on March 10
- Lakhs of devotees visit Varanasi, the birthplace of Guru Ravidas, to mark the Jayanti
- Parties say devotees will not be able to cast votes as they will be visiting Varanasi for a week
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has said that it will consider the demands of the political parties to reschedule the Assembly elections in Punjab. According to news agency ANI, a meeting of ECI officials is currently underway in Delhi to discuss the possibility of rescheduling the poll date.
The ruling Congress, BJP, BSP, SAD (Sanyukt) and Punjab Lok Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh have requested the ECI to reschedule the polls in view of Guru Ravidas Jayanti which falls on February 16. Notably, voting for Punjab's 117 assembly seats is scheduled for February 14 and the counting of votes will take place on March 10. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi too has urged the EC to defer the polls by six days in view of Guru Ravidass Jayanti.
Guru Ravidass Jayanti marks the birth anniversary of Guru Ravidas. It is celebrated on Magh Purnima, the full moon day in the month of Magh month of Hindu calendar.
Guru Ravidas was born in the 14th century in Seer Govardhanpur village near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. On this day, followers of Guru Ravidas visit Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan in Varanasi to offer prayers. This year, the pilgrimage will be held from February 10 to 16. Guru Ravidass Jayanti is a holiday in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states.
Lakhs of devotees visit Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to celebrate the day and parties feel that they would not be able to cast their votes due to this.
Channi has urged the Election Commission to postpone the polling date by six days for enabling around 20 lakh SC devotees to utilise their right to vote for the state legislative assembly. A large number of SC devotees from the state are likely to visit Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh from February 10 to 16, he said, adding that many people from the community would not be able to cast their votes for the state assembly.
"The state has substantial population of followers of Guru Ravidas ji, including the Scheduled Caste (SC) community which is about 32 per cent of the population of Punjab," Punjab BJP general secretary Subhash Sharma said in a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner on Sunday.
"On this pious occasion, millions of the devotees would visit Banaras in Uttar Pradesh to celebrate the gurparb. So it would not be possible for them to participate in the voting process. It is therefore requested to your goodself that the date of voting may be postponed so that these voters of Punjab could participate in the election process," he wrote.
"Tens of thousands of people from Punjab visit Banaras every year around Guru Ravidas Jayanti. Since elections are scheduled two days before Guru Ravidas Jayanti, many voters may be denied the chance to exercise the franchise as they will be away to Banaras for the annual pilgrimage,” said Punjab Lok Congress general secretary Kamal Saini in a letter to the poll panel.