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Parties against Oct. poll dates

Ranchi, July 17: Major political parties of Jharkhand are opposed to any proposal to hold the Assembly elections in October, even as a delegation of the Election Commission is likely to arrive in the state on Monday to discuss the schedule and preparations for the polls.

With a number of states heading for the Vidhan Sabha polls around the same time, sources suggested that the commission might hold polling in Jharkhand between Dussehra and Diwali — the biggest festive season here.

Dussehra will fall on October 3, whereas Diwali will be celebrated on October 23 in Jharkhand as per the Hindu calendar.

According to state poll officials, the tenure of Jharkhand Assembly will end on January 3 next year, while Maharastra Vidhan Sabha and Haryana House will dissolve in December and October, respectively. Similarly, Arunachal Pradesh Assembly’s term will end in November.

The BJP was the first to oppose suggestions to hold the elections during the festive season. “Elections zaruri hai toh puja path bhi to zaruri hai (Elections are important but festivals are important too),” Leader of the Opposition in Jharkhand Assembly Arjun Munda said.

He added, “It is not a good idea to hold elections between Durga Puja and Diwali as people and political workers will remain engaged in festivities throughout the month. We will explain our position to the poll panel officials.”

Festivities apart, there are some others reasons that have prompted the BJP to oppose any such proposal. A few days ago, newly elected BJP national president Amit Shah held a meeting with some top state unit leaders in Delhi to review the party’s preparations and strategies for the coming polls.

Insiders revealed that Shah was not convinced with the inflated claims made by state leaders and stressed on rigorous ground work and urgent housekeep. Shah apparently expressed his desire to visit Jharkhand next month.

Secondly, Hindi-speaking and middle class voters in Jharkhand are mostly from Bihar and constituent the BJP’s main vote bank. “Diwali is followed by Chhath festival. People generally go to their home during the festival. I am sure, you will see deserted polling booths if elections are held in October,” BJP MP from Chatra Sunil Singh said.

Even, the Congress is opposed to the elections in October in view of the series of festivals during the month. “The case of Jharkhand cannot be mixed with others. November is the ideal time to notify the elections in Jharkhand,” said state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat.

Moreover, the Congress, which is yet to overcome the embarrassment of the Lok Sabha elections, is not ready to go to the polls so soon for obvious reasons. Plagued by bickering, the Congress needs to strengthen its base and plug loopholes in the organisation before the Assembly polls.

Regional parties like the JMM and the JVM expressed similar views.

State chief electoral officer P.K. Jajoria said the visiting poll panel team would seek opinions of all political parties on the matter. “The team will stay here for two days and will consult all political parties. It will also hold a meeting with districts and police officials. Picture will be clear only after that,” he added.