Parliamentary By-Elections: ‘No Formal Communication Received From Govt’ 

Srinagar: Stating that process for panchayat polls is already very much in process, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu Saturday said that so far his office has not received any written communication from government for the Anantnag, Srinagar Parliamentary by-elections.

“The by -elections for Anantnag and Srinagar Parliamentary seats are to be held in the month of April probably in the first week, but yes till date we have not received any communication from the state government,” CEO said.

He said that they are ready to hold the by- elections of both the parliamentary constituencies. “ We are waiting for formal request from the government. If they will communicate to us for the conduct of elections, then we can accordingly move forward on it,” he said. 

Commenting on the panchayat elections, the CEO said that process has already been started in this regard. “We have started the process, but so for Rural development department has not issued the list of Panchayats,” he said.

Anantnag seat had fall vacant after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who represented the constituency in the LoK Sabha, resigned on July 4 following her election to the Legislative Assembly. 

Srinagar Lok Sabha seat had also fallen vacant in September after PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra had resigned from the party as well as Lok Sabha.

It is to mention here that earlier the PDP-BJP government had written to the ECI to defer the Anantnag parliamentary by-election citing reason that the situation was not conducive to hold free and fair polls.

Sources said that the government wants the Panchayat elections to be held first but the Oppositions is petitioning all relevant offices to ensure that Lok Sabha polls to South Kashmir and Central Kashmir constituencies are not delayed any further.

The timeline has both elections almost clashing with each other –a tight band of March and April –and the government is looking towards the Raj Bhawan and the Election Commission of India for a way out to have the Lok Sabha polls deferred.

Since the Anantnag Lok Sabha election has already been deferred once for April and on Srinagar seat it is due for the same month. Deferring Srinagar and a further extension in Anantnag would be beyond the jurisdiction of the poll body as it would need intervention of the Union Law Ministry and accent of the President of India.

The Central and South Kashmir Lok Sabha seats were won by the Peoples Democratic Party in 2014 general elections by handing down a crushing defeat to the National Conference, including personal defeat of former CM Dr Farooq Abdullah who lost first election of his whole political career. It was a ride on this success which built a wave in favour of PDP and proved helpful in the Assembly elections later the same year.

The Anantnag seat fell vacant in June last year following election of Mehbooba Mufti to the Legislative Assembly, a pre-requisite after she took over as Chief Minister in April last year. Though South Kashmir considered a pocket-borough of the Peoples Democratic Party, but the turmoil that erupted barely a month after the seat falling vacant had its whole epicenter in this region which saw most of the killings in confrontation between protestors and the security forces. Therefore, a contest on this seat is not considered easy as usual anymore for the Peoples Democratic Party which plans to field its newest high profile entrant, Tasaduq Mufti, on the South Kashmir seat.

The Central Kashmir seat also offers a peculiar challenge as this fell vacant after the incumbent MP, Tariq Hameed Karra, a founder member of the PDP, resigned from party and Lok Sabha to protest ‘government’s bad handling of the Kashmir situation’.

Sources said that Omar Abdullah had sought Governor’s intervention for timely conduct of Lok Sabha elections. “The Governor is though not in favour of delaying the Lok Sabha polls but he is keen that Panchayat polls are not delayed on any pretext’ Sources said. (KNS)

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