Kolkata: Following the announcement of Lok Sabha election dates (to be held in seven phases in West Bengal) by the Election Commission on Sunday, political parties in the state are divided over some of the dates that are clashing with Ramzan (May 5-June 4, 2019).
With nearly 31 per cent Muslim voters, election during Ramzan will become a key issue of Bengal politics in the upcoming days.
In Malda and Murshidabad districts alone, the minority voters’ strength is nearly 52 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor Firhad Hakim said, “People will face problems in exercising their voting rights as some poll dates are clashing with Ramzan. Since the Election Commission is a constitutional body, I don’t want to comment much in to the matter. But they should have considered that people will suffer during Ramzan (in casting votes).”
He said, “EC has announced the poll dates on Ramzan so that minorities are unable to cast their votes. But I would like to tell them (the BJP) that the people of Bengal are with (Trinamool chief) Mamata Banerjee.”
This is not the first time that the Trinamool Congress is raising the issue of Ramzan.
During the last panchayat election, party leaders led by minister Partha Chatterjee met West Bengal election commissioner AK Singh and requested him to conclude the rural polls before the month of fasting for the minority community begins.
West Bengal Congress president Somendra Nath Mitra also said the poll panel should consider the matter.
“We have a large number of Muslim voters and the EC should consider the poll dates as per the Ramzan observance,” Mitra said.
However, the BJP’s all-India secretary, minority morcha, Arshad 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 mean ‘Ibadat’ under any circumstances.”
“A true Muslim will keep ‘roza’ during Ramzan and will also perform his/her normal duties towards society and family. I don’t understand why political leaders every time drag Ramzan during elections. This time, we have decided to make this an issue and we will make people aware that please don’t fall in this trap of the opposition.”
The BJP is gearing up to target 22 of the 42 parliamentary seats in Bengal. At present, the party has two Lok Sabha seats (Asansol and Darjeeling) in the state.
In 2014, Union ministers Babul Supriyo and SS Ahluwalia won from Asansol and Darjeeling respectively, while the Trinamool Congress won 34 seats. The CPM and Congress won two seats each.