Election to Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat deferred to May 25

The constituency was scheduled to go to polls in the third phase on May 7 to decide the fate of 21 candidates, including Mehbooba Mufti

April 30, 2024 09:07 pm | Updated 10:47 pm IST - Srinagar

Democratic Progressive Azad Party chief Ghulam Nabi Azad addresses a public meeting for Lok Sabha elections, at Dooru in Anantnag district. File.

Democratic Progressive Azad Party chief Ghulam Nabi Azad addresses a public meeting for Lok Sabha elections, at Dooru in Anantnag district. File.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday heeded the demands of a group of parties, including the BJP, J&K Peoples Conference (JKPC) and J&K Apni Party (JKAP), to defer elections of the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency and fixed May 25 as a fresh date of polling. 

Earlier, the ECI had scheduled the elections for May 7, 2024. “The commission after considering report from the UT administration as well as analyzing the ground situation prevailing in the constituency, has decided under Section 56 of Representation of People Act, 1951, to revise the date of poll in the said Parliamentary Constituency in respect of ongoing General Election to Lok Sabha, 2024,” Sanjeev Kumar Prasad, Secretary of the ECI, said, in a fresh notification.

Mr. Kumar highlighted the “various representations received from different political parties of the UT (Union Territory) of Jammu & Kashmir for shifting the date of poll of election from 3-Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary Constituency (PC) of Jammu & Kashmir”.

He said the representations pointed out “various logistic, communication and natural barrier of connectivity turning out as hindrance in campaigning, which in turn tantamount to lack of fair opportunities for the contesting candidates in the said Parliamentary Constituency, which may affect poll process”.

The ECI’s fresh directive came after representations were made by BJP’s Ravinder Raina, JKPC’s Imran Reza Ansari, JKAP’s Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, Democratic Progressive Azad Party’s (DPAP) Mohammad Saleem Parray and the J&K Nationalist People’s Front. Besides, two independent candidates, Ali Mohammad Wani and Arsheed Ali Lone, also made representations.

However, the National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the CPI(M) opposed the move. These parties, in separate statements, pointed out that the demand was being made by the BJP and the J&K Peoples Conference, which has not fielded any candidates from the constituency. Ms. Mufti even claimed she was able to freely campaign in Rajouri and Poonch and highlighted that there were other routes to reach the constituency from Kashmir valley.

Watch | Decoding Anantnag-Rajouri seat | Election 360

“This is yet another travesty of free exercise of franchise in J&K that has lost generations in pursuit of democratic rights. This decision to pander to the bonsai parties planted post August 19 is fraught with immense dangers. It’s a repeat of the disastrous 1987 election fraud,” senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar said.

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