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BJP seeks date change

Agartala, Jan. 18: The state BJP has demanded rescheduling of the election date from February 14 in order to let people and students organise Saraswati Puja on February 15.

While BJP president Sudhindra Dasgupta raised the demand in writing to the Election Commission, the party’s central observer and Bajrang Dal leader Binay Katiyar has already met the poll panel to press for deferment of the poll date.

“If the Assembly election is held on the scheduled date of February 14, it will be difficult for students and common people to organise Saraswati Puja the next day in schools, colleges and households as at least two days of preparatory work and shopping is required for the puja. Security forces and other officials will occupy schools and colleges on the election day, markets will be closed and no vehicle will be available for carrying idols of the goddess. This is why we are demanding the rescheduling of the polls,” said Dasgupta.

He also alleged that the state election department had wrongly briefed the poll panel regarding the election date, ignoring the religious sentiments of the people.

Dasgupta hoped that better sense would prevail and the Election Commission would reschedule the election to February 20 and counting of votes to February 26.

“If our demand is not accepted, we will be left with no other alternative but to launch agitation across the state.”

However, CPM state secretary and central committee member Bijan Dhar said, “The democratic process and authority of the Election Commission should be respected. I am amazed at the BJP demand and they should withdraw it immediately,” said Dhar.

On the other hand, the BJP has declared names of candidates for 41 out of 60 Assembly constituencies and would soon announce names for the remaining 19 seats.

“We have announced 41 names with approval of our central leadership but we will contest all the 60 seats. The remaining 19 candidates will be announced before the filing of nominations commences,” said Dasgupta.

He said the party would try to bring important leaders like Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and others to campaign for the party in the Assembly election. “We have a fair chance in the polls because the Congress’s credibility has reached its nadir and people are looking to the BJP to emerge as an alternative to the Congress,” Dasgupta said.