To defer by-poll, govt cited yatra preparations

To defer by-poll, govt cited yatra preparations

Srinagar: The state government had requested the Election Commission of India to defer the by-poll for Anantnag seat because it has to make arrangements for Amarnath Yatra, while calling the law and order situation in the district as ‘not conducive’ for polls.
The two-month-long yatra starts from July 2. A large number of troops are deployed for the security of pilgrims to the cave shrine in Pahalgam area of the district.
“We conveyed to the ECI that troop deployment would be affected which will impact overall law and order situation,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
The polls slated to be held on May 16 were deferred on request of the PDP-BJP government.
Opposition had criticised the ruling PDP for deferring the polls by misleading the ECI about law and order situation, saying the party apprehended defeat for its policies and for aligning with the BJP.
Chief secretary BR Sharma said such decisions are taken by the divisional commissioner concerned.
Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is likely to contest the polls from the seat vacated after her father’s death. The seat is to be filled up within six-months from the date of its falling vacant.
JK chief electoral officer Shantamanu said a call on fresh dates for the elections will be taken by the end of June.
The results of the by-poll will indicate public mood, especially after PDP aligned with BJP last year despite having scotched at an idea of such an alliance before polls.
Mehbooba’s three-month long wait before forming the alliance again had raised hope among electorate that the “unpopular” alliance will end. But her continuation is again seen as a betrayal by PDP vote bank.
“No party is confident of its success. As state’s prominent political party we are also wary of the results,” said a PDP member.
Before 2014, Mufti got elected from the constituency in 2008 by defeating then National Conference leader and now PDP’s chief spokesperson Mehboob Beg.
In 2014, the constituency saw a tough fight between PDP and Congress, with Mufti bagging nearly 17000 votes against his rival Hilal Shah of Congress who got around 11000 votes.

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