With the Election Commission (EC) postponing the Punjab Assembly polls to 20 February in view of the Ravi Das Jayanti celebrations, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab president and Member of Parliament Bhagwant Mann on Monday welcomed the decision.
According to the new schedule, the date of notification will be 25 January. The last date for filing the nominations is 1 February.
The date of scrutiny is 2 February and the last date of withdrawal is 4 February. The counting of votes remains unchanged (March 10)
The Commission said the postponement had been done as it had received several representations from the state government, political parties and other organisations drawing its attention to the expected movement of a large number of people from Punjab to Varanasi for participation in Guru Ravidas Jayanti celebrations.
The Jayanti falls on 16 February. A large number of devotees start moving to Varanasi around a week before the day of celebration and polling on 14 February would have deprived them of voting.
Inputs from the state government and Punjab chief electoral officer were sought.
Welcoming the decision, AAP leader Mann said the date of voting has been postponed from February 14 to February 20 in view of the celebrations of Guru Ravidas Ji’s Parkash Diwas, and it was necessary out of the respect for the sentiments of the people of Punjab and to protect their right to vote in the upcoming Punjab Legislative Assembly elections.
Mann had written a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner Mr Sushil Chandra suggests that the birth anniversary of Shiromani Bhagat Sri Guru Ravidas Ji falls on February 16th and it is celebrated in all parts of India including Punjab. Devotees of Sri Guru Ravidass ji will be engaged in religious activities for about a week.
The AAP leader said every year a large number of devotees from Punjab visit Varanasi (Banaras) on the occasion of Guru Ravidas birthday.
These devotees leave for Banaras one week before Guru Ravidas Ji jayanti and usually return three-four days later.
He said that the Punjab Assembly polls would be held on February 14 and due to this either a large number of Guru Ravidas devotees would be deprived of visiting Banaras or they would not be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
According to the letter, Mann had requested Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra to defer the polling date in Punjab by at least a week so that the people of Punjab can celebrate Prakash Purab, visit Banaras and come back to exercise their constitutional right to vote without any problem.