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Assam: Parties unhappy over poll dates

By K Anurag in Guwahati
March 05, 2009 12:32 IST
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Political parties in Assam, barring the Congress, and the state government employees have voiced unhappiness over the poll dates announced by the Election Commission for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections as those coincide with celebration of Rongali Bihu, the Spring Festival in the state.

The 'Rongali Bihu' celebrations, which begin on April 14  continue for seven to 10 days. The Election Commission fixed April 16 and 23 as polling dates for Assam. Three constituencies – Diphu, Silchar and Karimganj – will go to polls on April 16 and the remaining 11 will have election on April 23.

"It pains us to realise that the Election Commission has failed to understand that how important the Rongali Bihu festival for the people of the state. How can people come out to vote when the festival is on?" asked Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Chandra Mohan Patowari.

He said the AGP would request the EC to revise the schedule for Assam so that the people were not deprived of exercising their franchise.

The state unit of the BJP, which has forged an alliance with the AGP to fight the Congress in Assam, has also raised the voice of protest.

"We are definitely going to raise the issue and seek deferment of the dates so that the people can take part in both, bihu as well as elections," said Ramen Deka, president of the state unit of the BJP.

The Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) has already dashed off a letter to the Election Commission pleading for rescheduling of the polling dates for the state.

The CPI(M), too, has asked for rescheduling elections in Assam.

"Let the election be held from April 23 onwards," said CPM state secretary and former MP Uddhab Barman.

However, the ruling Congress has no complaint over the poll dates. A Congress leader said that the poll schedule announced for Assam is alright given that usually it rains heavily in Assam after April.

"It will be wise to have polls in the state befiore the rain starts. Earlier, is always the better.It is always easier to get adequate security forces for earlier phases of polls," he said.

Meanwhile, Assam governmemnt employees who are going to play a crucial role in conducting polls, have decided to send a memorandum to the EC requesting postponement of polls from April 16 in view of Rangali Bihu.

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K Anurag in Guwahati