Srinagar: With the state government believing that the ‘security situation’ is not yet right, the By-polls of south Kashmir’s Anantnag Lok Sabha seat are not likely to be held in the near-future.
Sources said that the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, has not got any intimation regarding starting the election process ‘as the government’s priority remains bringing the situation back to normal’.
Sources said that the Election Commission of Indian and the intelligence agencies are of the opinion that by-polls of south Kashmir’s Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency won’t be held under the present circumstances in south Kashmir.
Sources told the news agency KNS that there may be reluctance on the part of polling personnel to go to polling locations because of fear in their minds with regard to their safety.
“It seems the polls won’t be held in this year. If the violence goes down then the polls may be held in January or February 2018,” an officer wishing anonymity told KNS.
Sources said the security forces want to continue to counter militancy-related activities. “It won’t be possible to hold polls when security agencies are busy with anti-militant operations,” sources within the security agencies said.
They said that the state government believes that the overall law and order situation in the valley was not conducive to the holding of the by-poll.
The violence has already got Anantnag by-poll postponed. The Election Commission (EC) cancelled the May 25, Anantnag Lok Sabha by-poll because of the “scary” situation in Kashmir.
State government officials had informed the EC that the situation in South Kashmir “is not good, the overall situation is scary and not very conducive (to the holding of polls),” the EC had said. Since than the poll body is undecided over the timing of the polls. Sources said it was violence that has also put elections on hold.
Anantnag seat fell vacant in June last after Mehbooba Mufti won the assembly bypolls, as required by law, to continue as the Chief Minister. Earlier, the PDP had chosen J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti’s brother Mufti Tasaduq Hussain to contest from Anantnag constituency against Congress state president G A Mir.
Various political parties have won the seat over the last 30 years.
In 1989 parliamentary polls, PL Handoo of the National Conference candidate emerged winner from the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.
Although, the parliamentary polls were again held in 1991 across India but could not take place in Kashmir due to volatile situation in the valley. This had prompted the Centre to promulgate an ordinance to defer elections for these seats.
In 1996 polls, the Janta Dal candidate Muhammad Maqbool Dar emerged winner from this Lok Sabha constituency. Mufti Muhammad Sayeed won the south Kashmir Parliamentary seat in 1998 on the Congress ticket and the polls recorded around 28 percent voter turnout.
In 1999, the Lok Sabha seat of south Kashmir was won by the National Conference candidate Ali Muhammad Naik. The voter turnout stood less than 20 percent. The elections were conducted in backdrop of than National Conference leader Saifuddin Soz, who voted in defiance of the party whip against the BJP-led coalition government during the confidence motion in Lok Sabha. He later joined the Congress party.
Mehbooba Mufti made her maiden entry in the Parliament in 2004, by defeating her rival National Conference candidate, Mehboob Beg by more than 38,000 votes from Anantnag constituency.
While in 2009, the National Conference candidate Mehboob Beg was declared as the winner. He defeated PDP candidate Peer Mohammad Hussain with a mere margin of 5,200 votes. Mehbooba Mufti won the Lok Sabha seat in 2014 by 65417 votes. She defeated the then NC candidate Mehboob Beg, who has now joined the PDP.
(With inputs from KNS)