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Published 19:27 IST, April 26th 2024

'No Need to Postpone Anantnag Polls': Former J&K CMs Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah Urge ECI

Former J&K chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah urged the Election Commission of India not to delay the 2024 polls for the Anantnag Lok Sabha.

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Former J&K chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah urged the Election Commission of India not to delay the 2024 polls for the Anantnag Lok Sabha. | Image: PTI/File
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Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday not to delay the polls for the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency on the pleading of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies. “I urge both the Election Commission of India not to delay the polls. There is absolutely no need to postpone the elections. If I write to the EC about constituencies in Tamil Nadu, etc., will they take notice?” Omar Abdullah said while addressing a hurriedly called press conference at his party headquarters in Srinagar.

“We've heard reports of BJP and other parties, working with the ECI, trying to delay elections in Anantnag and Rajouri due to bad weather. But it’s suspicious because the appeal came from non-contesting parties and candidates, raising doubts about BJP and PC’s involvement despite not fielding candidates. Their initial appeal first surfaced on social media, even though they aren’t participating in this seat,” Omar added.

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“As a political party, we strongly oppose any attempts to postpone the upcoming elections in the Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary constituency. We believe there is no valid reason to delay the electoral process, even if the Mughal road is closed for a few hours. If the roads to Keran and Machil can remain accessible, why not the Mughal Road? Unless the administration is involved in a conspiracy to manipulate the electoral outcome in this constituency,” Omar added

Adullah said, “Initially, his party is sending a written communication regarding it to the ECI. If JKNC plea is ignored, then we’ll explore 'legal options',”.

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Meanwhile, talking to reporters in the Surankote area of the Poonch district, Mehbooba Mufti said, “They’ve all united against me because they don't want me in Parliament. People from all religious and party backgrounds are rallying behind me, so they're trying to manipulate and postpone the elections through the Election Commission”.

PDP leader mentioned that she recently travelled on the Mughal Road, which was recently reopened for traffic. Now, the BJP and its allied parties have suddenly brought up the issue of the Mughal Road.

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“My appeal to the ECI is to refrain from postponing the elections with only 10 days remaining for polling. This will convey the wrong message and lead to serious consequences," she added.

Mufti cited the purported rigging in the 1987 assembly elections, which she claimed led to the onset of terrorism in J&K, and urged the ECI to refrain from undertaking such a risky endeavour. She emphasised that the people of J&K have already endured considerable suffering and have minimal trust in the electoral process.

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Mufti cautioned the BJP and its allies. “You're attempting to replicate the events of 1987, which resulted in bloodshed and transformed the valley into a graveyard," she said.

Both leaders were referring to the Thursday night communication from the Election Commission of India to J&K’s Chief Electoral Officer and Chief Secretary, wherein it was mentioned that certain parties had approached the commission requesting the postponement of elections due to challenges in campaigning caused by the closure of the Mughal Road.

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The representation was submitted by Ravinder Raina, the BJP’s J&K president, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, the chief of J&K Apni Party, Imran Reza Ansari from the People’s Conference, advocate Mohammad Saleen Parray, and independents Ali Mohammad Wani and Arsheed Ali Lone.

Pertinently, the newly carved Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary constituency is set to vote in the third phase on May 7th to determine the destiny of 21 candidates, among them Mufti, who faces a significant competition from National Conference veteran Gujjar leader Mian Altaf.

19:27 IST, April 26th 2024