Assembly elections in Punjab will be held on February 20, the Election Commission said today. The date has been changed from February 14 after political parties requested the Election Commission to factor in Guru Ravidas Jayanti celebrations.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi in a letter to the Election Commission had suggested the assembly polls should be deferred by at least six days after representatives of the Scheduled Castes community, which comprises 32 per cent of Punjab's population, told him that a large number of people from the community would visit Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh from February 10 to 16 and so may not be able to vote. The birth anniversary of Guru Ravidas is on February 16.
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.
"After considering these new facts emerging out of these representations, inputs from the state government and Chief Electoral Officer, past precedence and all facts and circumstances in the matter, now commission has decided to reschedule the elections," it said.
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.
In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner on Sunday, Punjab BJP General Secretary Subhash Sharma said, "The state has substantial population of followers of Guru Ravidas ji, including the Scheduled Castes (SC) community which is about 32 per cent of the population of Punjab. On this pious occasion, millions of 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..."
Punjab Aam Aadmi Party chief Bhagwant Mann tweeted his party' request to the Election Commission to defer the election by a week.
Counting is on March 10.