EC puts off J&K Assembly bypoll for Anatnag seat
Two days after the Election Commission issued a notification announcing elections to the Anantnag assembly constituency on May 16, the poll panel Thursday postponed the bypoll following a request from the J&K government. The assembly seat fell vacant after the death of former Chief Minister and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The poll is especially important for CM Mehbooba Mufti, who is likely to contest from this seat. She is not a member of either of the two Houses of the J&K Assembly.
In his request, the state chief secretary told the poll panel that Anantnag’s law and order situation was “not conducive” for the polls at present. The opposition, however, termed the postponement as Mehbooba’s “admission” that she was afraid of “facing the bypoll”.
While the government didn’t explain why it found the situation in Anantnag constituency — Anantnag town and adjoining area — not conducive, it seemed clear that the decision was more political than administrative. The graph of PDP’s support across its traditional stronghold in south Kashmir, especially in urban Anantnag, has sharply declined ever since the party joined BJP to form a coalition.
In its notification on Thursday, the EC said the J&K chief secretary had apprised the commission that “due to certain recent incidents” the situation was “not conducive” for holding the bypoll. On Tuesday, the EC had issued a notification announcing the bypoll on May 16, saying that the result will be declared on May 19.
Meanwhile, apart from pointing out PDP’s declining popularity to claim that Mehbooba was unsure of a victory, Opposition parties also said that the CM may now take the easy route by becoming a member of the Legislative Council.
“The law and order situation is just an excuse. They are seeing the ground moving beneath their feet. She (Mehbooba Mufti) claims to be a popular leader. If she takes the Upper House route, it would be a moral defeat for her,” said State Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir.
“It’s an admission both of how bad things have become under @mehbooba_mufti & how petrified she is of facing the people…,” former CM and working president of National Conference Omar Abdullah tweeted.
Neither PDP’s chief spokesman Mehboob Beig nor the party’s Kashmir spokesman, Rafi Ahmad Mir, were available for comment.
A PDP leader, however, said: “Although it is highly unlikely that a sitting CM, and that too Mehbooba Mufti, would lose from Anantnag, there are few doubts in her mind. I don’t think she wants to take any risk.’’
Srinagar, April 10: The Peoples Democratic Party on Monday asked the Election Commission to postpone Anantnag parliamentary constituency bypoll scheduled to be held on April 12, party sources have confirmed.
PDP candidate Tassaduq Hussain Mufti for south Kashmir’s Anantnag parliamentary seat told the EC that the situation in the district was not right to conduct the bypoll.
Eight civilians were killed when the security forces opened fire during the voting process in the Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary bypoll on Sunday.
Separatists have called a two-day shutdown and protest against Sunday’s civilian killings.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shant Manu on Sunday said the bypoll in Anantnag would be conducted as scheduled for April 12.