None of the total seven polling dates fall on Friday, the traditional day of prayers for Muslims.
Lok Sabha election dates clash with Ramzan: A controversy has broken out about three polling dates falling in the month of Ramzan when large number of Muslims observe fast from dawn to dusk. Several leaders of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and Aam Admi Party leader Amanat Ullah Khan in Delhi have criticised the Election Commission (EC) for choosing three dates during the Ramzan. These parties alleged that the decision was aimed at depriving the Muslims of voting that will indirectly benefit the BJP.
Ramzan, the Muslim month of fasting, is expected to begin on May 5 or 6 and likely to end on June 4. This period covers the last three phases of election (May 6, 12 and 19).
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Election process will already be over in 374 or nearly 70% of the Lok Sabha seats located in 25 states and union territories before the start of month of Ramzan this year. These include states with sizeable Muslim voters like Assam and Kerala where polling will be over before Ramzan.
A total of 169 Lok Sabha seats, or 31% of total 543 seats, located in 11 states and union territories will be covered during the period when Ramzan will be in observance.
These 169 seats are located in 11 states and union territories. These are Bihar, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and union territory of Chandigarh and NCT-Delhi. Four of these 11 states and UTs – Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal – have a sizeable Muslim population.
In Muslim majority state of Jammu & Kashmir, voting for two of six seats (Anantnag and Ladakh) will take place during the month of Ramzan. However, the two rounds of polling in Anantnag will be over before onset of Ramzan. Election Commission has decided to conduct election in Anantnag in three phases due to difficult security situation.
Three states with large Muslim voters to vote during Ramzan
The ongoing poll process will only cover three states with sizeable Muslim voters. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. While West Bengal has around 27% Muslim voters, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have nearly 19% and 17% Muslim votes respectively. And in these states too, the voting in almost half of their seats (76 of 162 seats) will be over before the start of Ramzan.
Period of Ramzan would cover 21 of total 40 seats in Bihar, 41 of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh and 24 of 42 seats in West Bengal, more than half of the total seats (86 of 162 seats).
In six other states and union territories – Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chandigarh – which will see part polling during the month of Ramzan, the number of Muslim voters is not as large as in West Bengal, UP or Bihar.
Two of these six states, Haryana and Punjab, have small pockets of Muslim voters in Mewat and Maler Kotla regions respectively.
In national capital Delhi, month of Ramzan will cover all 7 seats as the union territory will see poll on a single day on May 12, nearly one week after the start of Ramzan. Muslims voters form a sizeable chunk in one Lok Sabha seat – North-East Delhi constituency in the capital.
UP: Polling in majority of seats with large Muslim voters will be over before Ramzan
In Uttar Pradesh, month of Ramzan will cover the voting in central and eastern parts of UP. However, the voting in western Uttar Pradesh, the area which has sizeable number of Muslims voters in seats and districts like Kairana, Aligarh, Meerut, Shamli, Bulandshahr, Saharanpur and Aligarh, including some seats like Bareilly in central UP having large number of Muslim voters, will already be over by April 29 before the onset of Ramzan.
There are 16 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh which have more than 20% Muslim voters. Voting in 11 of these 16 seats with sizeable Muslim population will be over before April 29, a week before the start of Ramzan. These seats are Rampur, Bijnor, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Meerut, Kairana, Amroha, Bareilly, Sambhal, Shahjanhapur and Muzffarnagar.
However, 6 seats with over 20% Muslims voters will see polling during the month of Ramzan. These seats are Bahraich, Barabanki, Domariaganj, Kaiserganj and Lucknow.
Bihar: Polling in 7 of 9 seats with sizeable Muslim population to be over before Ramzan
In case of Bihar, the polling in the Lok Sabha seats which have sizeable Muslim population like Kishanganj, Purnia and Bhagalpur will already be over on April 18 much before the onset of month of Ramzan.
Number of Muslim voters is more than 20% in 9 seats of Bihar. These are Araria, Kishanganj, Purnia, Katihar, Madhubani, East Champaran, West Champaran, Darbhanga, Madhubani and Sitamarhi where the polling will be over before Ramzan. Polling in only 2 of these 9 seats with sizeable Muslim votes will take place during the holy month of Ramzan.
Impact of Ramzan in voting in West Bengal
There are 11 seats in West Bengal where Muslim votes are more than 30%. However, polling in seven of these 11 seats – Raiganj, Maldah Uttar, Maladah Dakshin, Jangipur, Murshidabad, Baharampur and Birbhum – will be over before the start of Ramzan.
However, voting in 4 other Lok Sabha seats with more than 30% Muslim votes like Diamond Harbour, Jaynagar, Jadavpur, Mathurapur will take place during the month of Ramzan. Voting during Ramzan will also cover seats of Howrah, Basirhat, Tamluk and Uluberia with sizeable Muslim population.
Most importantly, none of the total seven polling dates of April 11, 18, 23 and 29 and May 6, 12 and 19 fall on a Friday, the traditional day of prayers for Muslims.
Election Commission of India has also clarified that none of the polling dates clash with any important festival or Friday prayers.