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Firhad Hakim, Kolkata Mayor, and TMC leader, on Monday, stirred a row by saying that the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal is to stop minorities from exercising their franchise in the Lok Sabha polls.
"EC is a constitutional body and we respect them. We don't want to say anything against them. But the seven-phase election will be tough for people in Bihar, UP and West Bengal. It will be most difficult for those who will be observing Ramzan at that time," Hakim was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Firhad Hakim, Kolkata Mayor & TMC leader: EC is a constitutional body&we respect them. We don't want to say anything against them. But 7-phase election will be tough for people in Bihar, UP&WB. It'll be most difficult for those who will be observing ramzan at that time. (10.03) pic.twitter.com/fLj4Ivferd— ANI (@ANI) March 11, 2019
He further said that EC should have 'kept in mind' that the prolonged poll schedule coincides with the holy month of Ramzan. "Minority population in these three states is quite high. They'll cast votes by observing 'Roza'. EC should've kept this in mind. BJP wants minorities to not cast their votes. But we aren't worried. People are committed to BJP hatao-desh bachao," he said.
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.
Maulana Firangi Mehli urged EC to change the dates of polling for the 5th, 6th and 7th phases, claiming that the people of his community will face difficulty as the holy month of Ramzan possibly will start on May 5.
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.”