Election Commission Defers Anantnag-Rajouri Polls Amid Gujjar-Bakerwal Migration Concerns

The Election Commission's decision to defer Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha polls has sparked controversy, with major parties accusing it of manipulating the vote to benefit BJP allies. The move raises concerns about the disenfranchisement of nomadic communities.

Rafia Tasleem
New Update
Election Commission Defers Anantnag-Rajouri Polls Amid Gujjar-Bakerwal Migration Concerns

Election Commission Defers Anantnag-Rajouri Polls Amid Gujjar-Bakerwal Migration Concerns

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has deferred the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency elections from May 7 to May 25, citing logistical issues due to adverse weather conditions. This decision has triggered sharp reactions from Jammu and Kashmir's two major parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting the seat, has alleged that the move is a deliberate attempt by the ECI to manipulate voters in favor of BJP allies and to frighten people from exercising their franchise against the ongoing onslaught on Jammu and Kashmir's identity and resources. Mufti expressed her determination to contest the elections despite the challenges and called on the people to strengthen her resolve and ensure her victory.

NC Vice President Omar Abdullah has also criticized the decision, calling it a "well-hatched conspiracy" aimed at depriving a large chunk of Gujjar and Bakerwal voters from voting, as they are moving to the plains from higher reaches during this period. Abdullah argues that the roads are still connected and the candidates have been able to campaign in the area, so the deferment is not justified. He accuses the BJP and Peoples Conference of demanding the deferment, and says the ECI's decision is aimed at benefiting the BJP.

Why this matters: The deferment of the Anantnag-Rajouri polls has raised concerns about the potential disenfranchisement of the nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwal communities, who are expected to migrate to the plains by the new polling date. The allegations of electoral manipulation by major political parties highlight the contentious nature of the decision and its potential impact on the election outcome.

The Gujjar and Bakerwal community, a significant nomadic population in the constituency, are expected to return to the higher reaches by the time polling is held on May 25, which may impact the voter turnout. The PDP has held street protests against the ECI decision, calling it "pre-poll rigging." However, the JKAP and the Democratic Progressive Azad Party have welcomed the ECI's move, citing inclement weather and disrupted road connectivity as the reasons for the deferment.

"The Election Commission has become a tool of the BJP," PDP leader Naeem Akhtar claimed, demanding that the report based on which the polls were deferred be made public. The party has vowed to continue its fight for the restoration of the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir through peaceful, constitutional, and democratic means.

Key Takeaways

  • ECI defers Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha polls from May 7 to May 25 citing logistical issues.
  • PDP and NC allege the move is a BJP-backed attempt to manipulate voter turnout.
  • Deferment may disenfranchise nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwal communities who migrate during this period.
  • JKAP and DPAP welcome the decision, citing inclement weather and disrupted road connectivity.
  • PDP demands the report justifying the deferment be made public, vows to fight for Kashmiris' rights.