Election to Anantnag-Rajouri LS seat deferred to May 25 - Hindustan Times
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Election to Anantnag-Rajouri LS seat deferred to May 25

By, Mir Ehsan, Delhi/ Srinagar
Apr 30, 2024 11:28 PM IST

The poll body has only revised the poll date for the constituency

The Election Commision has shifted the poll date for the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency of Jammu and Kashmir from May 7 (third phase) to May 25 (sixth phase) due to hindrance posed by logistics, communication, and “natural barrier of connectivity” in campaigning, the poll body announced on Tuesday. This change was made under Section 56 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which empowers the EC to fix the hours for polling. The poll body said that these barriers are “tantamount to lack of fair opportunities for the contesting candidates in the said Parliamentary Constituency which may affect poll process” in its press statement.

The Election Commision has shifted the poll date for the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency of Jammu and Kashmir from May 7 (third phase) to May 25 (sixth phase) due to hindrance posed by logistics, communication, and “natural barrier of connectivity” in campaigning, the poll body announced on Tuesday. (HT File)
The Election Commision has shifted the poll date for the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency of Jammu and Kashmir from May 7 (third phase) to May 25 (sixth phase) due to hindrance posed by logistics, communication, and “natural barrier of connectivity” in campaigning, the poll body announced on Tuesday. (HT File)

The poll body has only revised the poll date for the constituency. “All statutory processes including nomination, scrutiny and withdrawal of candidates are already over with the 21 contesting candidates,” an EC official said. There is no change in any part of the schedule, this person said. The nominations from 25 candidates were scrutinised on April 20, of which four were rejected by the returning officer due to substantial errors.

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The candidates include former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, senior National Conference (NC) leader Mian Altaf, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas of the Apni Party and Mohammad Saleem Parray of the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP). BJP J&K president Ravinder Raina last week said they are supporting ‘bat and ball’, the election symbol of Apni Party led by former minister Altaf Bukhari on Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat.

Four parties --- the J&K Apni Party, the People’s Conference, DPAP, and the BJP (despite not fielding a candidate but they are supporting Apni Party) --- had approached the EC on April 22 to seek a delay in the poll date as snowfall and landslides had blocked the Mughal Road, the only road that connects Anantnag and Rajouri, and thus stopped them from campaigning. The EC subsequently on April 25 sought a report from chief secretary Atal Dulloo and the chief electoral officer.

Mufti and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had asked the poll body to not postpone the polls.

“I appeal to the EC that such a step should not be taken. The demand for postponement is not from all parties. The weird thing is that some of the people who have written to the EC are not contesting. If I write to the EC about constituencies in Tamil Nadu, etc. will they take notice?” Abdullah has said in a press conference in Srinagar on April 26.

Mufti had earlier claimed that the delimitation of the constituency was an attempt by the BJP to rig the elections in their favour. “Don’t they have knowledge that the Mughal Road traditionally remains closed for six months but they joined parts on both sides of Pir Panjal just to rig elections. This is not happening anywhere else in the country,” she had earlier said.

The National Conference raised concern over shifting of poll dates. PDP termed it as a nervousness of New Delhi.

Former minister and senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar termed it another travesty of free exercise of franchise in J&K that has lost generations in pursuit of democratic rights.

"It is not unusual for EC to take into account local factors which might cause disruption to the normal process of polling," Ashok Lavasa, former election commissioner said.

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