Assam parties angry over poll during Bihu, want schedule changed

March 3rd, 2009 - 11:26 am ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, March 3 (IANS) Major political parties in Assam are angry with the schedule of the two-phased parliamentary election announced for the state as it coincides with Bohag Bihu, the Assamese New Year, and will appeal to the Election Commission (EC) later Tuesday to review the poll dates.

Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami Monday announced the schedule for Lok Sabha elections in the country with the two-phased polls in Assam scheduled for April 16 and April 23.

“The two dates are simply not acceptable to us as it is the time for Bohag Bihu festivities in Assam. We shall formally appeal the EC for a review of the dates,” Chandra Mohan Patowary, president of Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), told IANS.

The Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), another major opposition party in Assam, too opposed the poll dates.

“We are equally unhappy over the poll schedule as it would greatly inconvenience the people of Assam due to the Bihu,” said Hafiz Rashid Choudhury, working president of the AUDF.

The Bohag Bihu on April 14 is the biggest festival in Assam with the festivities continuing for about a week.

“During our meetings with the EC in February, we categorically suggested that poll dates in Assam should be either before or well after the Bihu. We don’t know why the EC did not take into account the sentiments of the people of Assam,” the AUDF leader said.

The AGP is trying to mobilise a consensus on the poll schedule with other political parties and jointly appeal to the EC for a change in the dates.

“I am sure on this issue for a review of the election schedule all political parties cutting across party lines would support us. Let all the parties jointly appeal the EC,” the AGP president said.

Three parliamentary constituencies go to the polls April 16, while voting in the remaining 11 seats are scheduled for April 23 in the second phase.

The ruling Congress party is equally upset about the schedule, although it has not made its stand public.

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