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Cong in Ramazan plea to push back polls

New Delhi, July 14: If the Congress has its way, the Assembly elections — scheduled for November in five states — might be pushed back to December.

Indications are the party might approach the Election Commission with a representation to hold the polls in early December.

Since the month of Ramazan begins on October 29, it will be inconvenient for Muslims to participate in the polling process should elections be held in November end, a senior Delhi Congress leader said.

“We might approach the Election Commission with a request to postpone the elections by a week or 10 days and hold it after the Ramazan month and in early December,” he said.

Sources in the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee said the Sheila Dikshit government was contemplating how it could get the polls deferred till after Ramazan. The new Delhi Assembly has to be constituted by December 2.

As of now, only the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee is working on how to get the polls postponed. Sources said Muslims constitute a significant part of the electorate in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, so “we would prefer the polls in December”.

The Congress is apprehensive that it will have to grapple with some degree of anti-incumbency. So, party poll managers want to ensure that the Muslims turn out in full strength. Besides, the contest in these four states will be directly between the Congress and the BJP.

“We expect the elections to be a close fight between the Congress and the BJP. Obviously, we want to fully mobilise our supporters and see that they cast their votes on polling day,” a source said.

Citing instances, sources expressed confidence that the Election Commission might consider adjusting the dates to ensure polling is not held too close to Ramazan.

Freedom sermon

The Congress launched a veiled attack on the BJP in Delhi, asking partymen to draw inspiration from the freedom struggle and “free the nation from the clutches of the communal forces trying to divide the nation”.

“Great leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru constructed modern temples (dams) to take the nation ahead. But now there is a demolition spree going on. We need to take inspiration from our freedom movement at this critical juncture,” AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes said in the capital. He was at a function to release a book on the history of the Indian National Congress.

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