NC, PDP oppose Anantnag-Rajouri poll deferment; Modi writes to BJP candidates | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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NC, PDP oppose Anantnag-Rajouri poll deferment; Modi writes to BJP candidates

May 01, 2024 08:49 AM IST

The Election Commission of India agreed to the demand from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a clutch of local parties to delay polling

Elections in Jammu and Kashmir are seldom without controversy. This election season, vagaries of the weather have brought the polling process under a cloud, at least in one constituency. The Election Commission of India agreed to the demand from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a clutch of local parties to delay polling in the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat of Union territory from May 7 to the 25. The move has fuelled controversy and even caused consternation in some sections.

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti during a roadshow in Anantnag. (ANI)
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti during a roadshow in Anantnag. (ANI)

The key players, the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are not happy with the decision. They say it has been thrust on them after parties such as the BJP, which is not contesting any of the three seats in the Valley, the J&K Apni Party, the People’s Conference and the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) sought the postponement. BJP and the three other parties asked for the postponement pointing out that heavy rain, snowfall, and landslides have blocked access to the constituency causing difficulties in outreach.

The Anantnag-Rajouri constituency was carved out in the delimitation exercise conducted in 2022. PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, NC’s Miyan Altaf, and Mohammad Parray of the People’s Conference will slug it out for the high-stake seat which falls in both the Jammu and Kashmir regions and covers 11 assembly segments in the Valley and seven in Jammu.

There is a buzz that the four parties wanted the polls deferred to gain more time to canvass and improve their chances. Predictably both the NC and the PDP have opposed the call.

PDP spokesperson Mohit Bhan in a post on X called it the “sheer nervousness of Delhi”. He said the overwhelming support of people towards Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister, who ran a coalition government with the BJP that fell in 2018, has forced “them to change the election date & facilitate the proxy parties of BJP to do the murky business in the electoral process.”

Taking a dig at the BJP’s narrative of Naya Kashmir, or the new Kashmir post the abrogation of Article 370 that gave the state special status, he said, “Denying procedural space to people to exercise their franchise after gerrymandering the entire constituency shows how Delhi is aware of people’s mood and their failed narrative of Naya Kashmir.”

NC spokesperson Ifra Jan linked the decision to the failure of the BJP to get the NC on board as an ally. “...Exactly why it was done. Because they are scared of JKNC & its candidate Mian Altaf Larvi. We did not ally with them in 2014, we did not become their B-Team post-2019. Hence their pure, unadulterated hatred towards the JKNC,” she said in a post on X.

The formation of the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency has been mired in controversy. The Valley parties saw it as an attempt to help the BJP gain a toehold in the region by expanding the limits of the seat to include portions from Jammu, which is its stronghold. It was put forth that the BJP was out to woo the scheduled tribe (ST) Gujjars and Bakerwals, and Paharis, who have also been given the benefits of quota.

PM’s letter

BJP candidates are used to words of encouragement and motivating speeches from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This election season, the contestants in the fray have received letters from Modi, motivating them to give their best shot. Ahead of every phase, Modi sends out letters to the BJP and National Democratic Alliance contestants, listing some of the government’s accomplishments, and underlining key issues.

Ahead of phase three of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, Modi urged the candidates to “sensitise voters” against the Congress’s purportedly divisive and discriminatory intentions. They have been asked to spread the word against the “regressive politics of Congress and INDI alliance including their agenda to give reservations to Muslims by snatching it from SC/ST and OBC.”

Modi called the election “a golden opportunity” to build a bright future. “This election is an important moment to get relief from the hardships that our family and the elders of the family have endured during the five-six decades of Congress rule. During the last decade, many difficulties of the countrymen have been removed by bringing positive changes in the lives of every section of the society,” the letter says.

Among the recipients are Union home minister Amit Shah, who is contesting from Gandhinagar, former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been fielded from Vidisha, and Mansukh Mandaviya, who is the BJP’s candidate from Porbandar.

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