Election to J&K’s Anantnag-Rajouri seat deferred to May 25

Several parties had demanded rescheduling of election in the constituency

Electronic Voting Machine | Reuters Representative image | Reuters

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday postponed the parliamentary polls for the Anantnag-Rajouri seat from May 7 to May 25.

The decision was made after a thorough review of several representations from political parties in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir seeking the rescheduling of the election in the constituency, said Sanjeev Kumar Prasad, Secretary of the ECI.

"On April 12, 2024, the notification for the 3rd phase was issued, setting the poll day for May 7, 2024. However, we received various representations from different political parties in Jammu & Kashmir, urging for a shift in the election date for the 3-Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary Constituency. They cited logistical, communication, and natural barriers hindering campaigning, thereby resulting in a lack of fair opportunities for contesting candidates," Prasad said.

He said that after analyzing reports from the UT administration and evaluating the prevailing ground situation in the constituency, the ECI, under Section 56 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, has decided to amend the polling date for the said parliamentary constituency.

The representations were submitted separately by Ravinder Raina, UT BJP chief, Imran Reza Ansari of People’s Conference, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari (Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party), J&K Nationalist People’s Front, Apni Party, Advocate Mohammad Saleem Parray, independent candidates Ali Mohammad Wani and Arsheed Ali Lone. 

The Election Commission has also called for detailed reports from the secretary, R&B, chief engineer Pir Panjal, chief engineer (mechanical) on the road conditions and traffic-related information from the deputy commissioner, Poonch.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, a contestant from Anantnag-Rajouri, and NC vice president Omar Abdullah had urged the ECI not to postpone polls. The Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency was created by the Delimitation Commission by merging large parts of Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu with three districts of south Kashmir—Anantnag, Pulwama, and Kulgam.

The BJP was eyeing the constituency to extend its reach in Kashmir. However, after finding the party was unlikely to garner enough support in the constituency, it decided not to field a candidate.

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