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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mehbooba Mufti writes to ECI on rescheduling polls in Anantnag seat


 Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Friday wrote to the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding the proposed delay for the Anantnag – Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, saying any attempt to delay it will result in denying a level playing field to all the parties.

The Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency is scheduled to go to polls on May 7.

The ECI on Thursday sought a report from J&K authorities on road conditions, weather and accessibility related constraints on Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri Parliamentary constituency after a representations submitted by several political leaders seeking re scheduling of the polls for the constituency.

The representations were signed by BJP Jammu and Kashmir President Ravinder Raina; Apni Party President Altaf Bukhari; Peoples Conference leader Imran Reza Ansari; and candidates Mohammad Saleem Parray, Ali Muhammad Wani, and Arsheed Ali Lone.

PDP chief Mufti, who is contesting from Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha said they strongly oppose the proposal of rescheduling saying it “targeted at derailing our campaign”.

She said it already looks like a “fixed match”.

In her letter to ECI, Mufti said Mughal Road- that connects Kashmir with Rajouri- is not the only connection available between the two regions of this newly carved out parliamentary constituency of Anantnag and Pir Panjal.

“The Kathua Udhampur constituency is almost similarly placed geographically and climatically but the election there has been already held in much worse weather and road conditions. It will be highly dubious to do so now in the last week of the campaigning,” she said.

“Before the ECI considers the issue on the basis of the road and weather conditions it may also take a review of the political and campaigning activities of all the signatories to the petition who comprise the BJP State President Ravinder Raina and their allies. They have no lack of resources and in fact their common candidate lives along the Mughal Road. So far how many meetings he has undertaken in the south Kashmir part of the constituency or Pir Panjal areas, may be considered,” the letter read.

Mufti said ECI has the distinction of having carried out logistically unhindered elections even in the middle of harsh winter and snowfall and never before in the history of J&K has any election been postponed for weather conditions.

Mufti said parties like PDP which as the ECI is aware lack resources to mobilise the voters as against those who are seeking deferment.

“Despite our own limitations we are still keen to proceed with the scheduled date as any change to the same is a compromise on the principles of democracy and free and fair elections. Our campaign is mainly driven by the local cadres, workers and sympathisers. Postponement of the elections will be extremely discouraging to them at the peak of the campaign and as a result this could be hugely disadvantageous to our party,” the letter said.

Mufti said the parties who have sought the postponement apparently see their electoral calculations coming apart.

“Therefore they are now resorting to baseless gimmicks in the obvious belief that ECI will implement their designs. It looks like since the issuance of the schedule for elections they have been waiting to see which way the wind blows and accordingly push the ECI to postpone the polling dates,” the letter added.

PDP chief said elections have to be not just free and fair but also looked to be so.

Mufti said J&K and the entire region have been subject to rigged elections and our electoral history has affected generations of people here culminating in huge uprising and violence since the late 80s of the last century whose ghosts are still around.

“We hope that the ECI will take the history of J&K into consideration before taking any decisions based on geography with such huge implications, in 21st century when the Country claims to be logistically advanced especially in road communication. We once again humbly request that the present schedule should be followed,” she said

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