Soon after the Election Commission announced that Tamil Nadu would go to polls on April 18, many in the state were quick to point out that the dates coincide with the annual Chithirai festival in Madurai.

Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu clashing with Chithirai festival EC seeks details Wikimedia Commons/ Jorge Royan / / CC BY-SA 3.0
news Elections Monday, March 11, 2019 - 15:59

A day after announcing the poll date for Tamil Nadu’s tryst with the Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission has sought details on whether April 18 coincides with religious festivals in the Madurai district. Soon after the EC announced that Tamil Nadu would go to polls on April 18, many in the state were quick to point out that the dates coincided with the annual Chithirai festival in Madurai. The festival, celebrated over two weeks, takes place in and around the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai, attracting a large number of devotees from across the state and country.

Speaking to media persons in Madurai, District Collector Natarajan confirmed that the administration had been asked details regarding the holidays in the district. “We have been asked for holiday dates in the district. We have informed that April 19, 2019 is holiday on the day of Chithirai Thiruvizha. That's what the Election Commission asked us and that's what we've replied. The representation (on the dates) clashing would be taken to the notice of the Election Commission,” he said.

The Collector also indicated that areas affected by the festival could witness an extension in polling time on the day of voting to enable voters to cast their ballot.

Thursday, April 18 is also commemorated as Maundy Thursday, observed a day prior to Good Friday. Politicians from the state have expressed concern that voter turnout maybe low on account of the date clash. Meanwhile, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has been moved over the issue with a petitioner seeking to change the date of polling on account of the festival.

Read: Bye-polls to 18 assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu on April 18

Interestingly, announcing the poll dates in New Delhi on Sunday, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that religious festivals had, in fact, been considered. “While finalizing poll dates, examination schedules of various state boards, CBSE, other relevant factors like various festivals including festivals which have religious bindings(for example, when people are fasting, etc), harvest season in certain parts of the country as well as the in outside obtained from the weather department are also adequately factored in,” he had said.

The state will face elections simultaneously on Thursday, April 18 for the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies as well as 18 of the 21 assembly seats lying vacant in bye-polls.

Also Read: Why April 18 is a test for survival for EPS and the AIADMK



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