Omar, Mehbooba ask EC not to postpone polls in Anantnag-Rajouri LS seat

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

The former chief ministers made the appeal 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.

“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.

Abdullah said “all options are open”, including legal recourse, for his party if the Election Commission decides to postpone the polls.

“All options are open to us. First and foremost, we appeal to the Election Commission not to do it (postpone the elections). The Election Commission should issue a directive to the local administration to keep the road open,” he said.

Abdullah, who was accompanied by National Conference candidate for the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat Mian Altaf Ahmad, said the EC should not pay heed to the letter written by some parties and individuals, including the BJP for postponement of the elections under the garb of closure of the Mughal Road, the fair weather road which connects south Kashmir to Poonch-Rajouri region on other side of the Pir Panjal mountain range.

Abdullah said he failed to understand why anyone would seek postponement of an election based on presumption that the road will be closed due to inclement weather.

“The road is open today. Even if there is rain, it won’t be difficult to restore the road. Even if the road gets closed, our candidate is ready to go (to Poonch-Rajouri) by alternative road through Reasi,” he said.

“If they can keep the roads to Kargil, Keran, Machil and Gurez open, there is no reason why they can’t keep the Mughal road open,” he added.

Speaking to reporters in 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 polls 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.

Attacking the BJP government at the Centre, 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 charged.

On the intentions to seek postponement of the elections, Abdullah said, “I can’t say why they wrote to the EC. Let’s accept that BJP does not do anything that does not benefit it”.

The NC leader said the people of the Anantnag constituency have been “unfortunate” that whenever it seems like the NC is having an upper hand, the elections are sought to be postponed.

“If you recall, in 2017 also people of Anantnag were disenfranchised. There was a PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir. Chief minister (Mehbooba Mufti)’s brother was the candidate, who sought deferring the polls days before polling as he feared defeat,” he added.

In response to a question, Abdullah said he feels he is the strongest candidate for the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency.

“Earlier, It was said (by PC candidate Sajad Gani Lone) that I am a tourist …. Now they are seeking support from everyone. I feel I am the strongest candidate,” he said.

“I mustered courage and will contest from there (Baramulla). I wish Lone had mustered the courage to contest from Srinagar,” he added.

On the Supreme Court dismissing the plea on use of VVPAT on 100 percent EVMS, Abdullah said he wished he apex court had not done so.

Asked about the apprehensions of poll postponement, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said the EC is an independent institution and whatever decision it takes with regard to elections will be followed by the BJP.

The 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 challenge from NC leader Mian Altaf.

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.

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