SRINAGAR: NC leader Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday asked the Election Commission not to postpone polls in Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat.

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The former chief ministers appealed after the EC sought a report from Chief Secretary Atal Dulloo and the Chief Electoral Officer on representations submitted by some parties and three candidates seeking rescheduling of elections in the constituency due to adverse weather conditions, including snowfall on the Mughal road.

“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,” he told a press conference in Srinagar.

Speaking to reporters in the Surankote area of Poonch district, Mehbooba said, “They all have ganged up against me because they do not want to see me in Parliament. The people, cutting across religious and party lines, are coming forward in my support and they are, therefore, using the Election Commission to defer and rig the elections”.

The PDP leader said she travelled through the Mughal road which was recently opened for traffic. “There is no justification in deferring voting in Anantnag-Rajouri seat. My request to the Election Commission is not to postpone the elections when only 10 days are left in the polling. This will send the wrong message and will have serious consequences,” she said before leaving for Mendhar town to carry forward her campaign.

Mehbooba referred to the alleged rigging in the 1987 assembly elections leading to eruption of militancy in J-K, and said, “We request Election Commission not to do such an adventure as the people in J-K have already suffered a lot and have little faith left in the electoral process.”

She said former prime minister A B Vajpayee had to given an assurance to the people of J-K about free and fair elections from the ramparts of the Red Fort, and “They (BJP) are trying to make it stained once again…You have already not left much with the people of J-K except a vote. You are trying to repeat 1987 which caused bloodshed and turned the valley into a graveyard.”

Mehbooba said they first reshaped Anantnag parliamentary constituency, using delimitation as an attempt 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 said.

She said the BJP has a lot of money and can press helicopters in service for those they are supporting. “We are the only part which lacks resources and our workers are spending from their own pockets for the past 25 days which we cannot continue for the next 20 days in case polls are postponed.”

When asked about the apprehensions of poll postponement in Anantnag-Rajouri, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said the EC is an independent institution and whatever decision it takes with regard to elections in Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat will be followed by the BJP.

Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary constituency is scheduled to go to polls in the third phase on May 7 to decide the fate of 21 candidates, including Mehbooba, who is facing a major challenge from National Conference leader and former minister Mian Altaf.

DPAP’s Mohammad Saleem Parray and Apni Party’s Zafar Iqbal Manhas are also among the contestants in the fray, while BJP has not fielded any candidate and is contemplating its support to one of the contestants not linked to Congress, NC and PDP.

Among those who have submitted their representation to the EC include J-K BJP chief Ravinder Raina, Apni party president Altaf Bukhari, DPAP candidate, Peoples Conference leader Imran Reza Ansari and two independent candidates.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Vikar Rasool Wani claimed that the BJP and its ‘B-teams’ have moved the Election Commission as they are facing “significant defeat” from the INDIA alliance candidate.

The Congress is supporting the National Conference from the constituency as part of seat sharing agreement among INDIA bloc partners. “I am not surprised by the recent actions of BJP and its A, B, C D teams. They have once again proven me right by mobilising together under the direction of ‘Big Boss’ in Nagpur. They know that they are likely to face a significant defeat in the Rajouri-Anantnag Parliamentary Segment, as INDIA (bloc) is winning with a huge thumping of votes,” Wani said.

He said despite their attempts to reschedule the poll date and use all tactics, the INDIA alliance will still “emerge victorious”.

 

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