In an unprecedented move, the election commission of India (ECI) Sunday announced that it would hold elections in the restive Anantnag parliamentary segment in southern Kashmir in three phases. Spread over four districts, the southern Kashmir parliamentary seat—where the authorities had failed to hold the parliamentary by-election in 2017—will now witness polls in three phases in the upcoming LokSabha elections beginning April 11.
This is for the first time that the election is being held for a parliamentary segment in three phases.
The ECI announcement about the southern parliamentary segment created confusion in the state’s mainstream political circles until it became clear that the polls will be held there in three phases.
Even the former chief minister Omar Abdullah and former finance minister HaseebDrabu were left perplexed.
“Something is wrong with this announcement. The ECI has counted 7 or 8 LS seats for my state but J&K only has SIX seats. #confused,” Omar tweeted.
“Has there been a delimitation of parliamentary constituencies through a Presidential Order?! Election Commission has announced election schedule for 8 seats:
Phase 1: J&K-2; PHASE 2: J&K-2; PHASE 3: J&K-1; PHASE 4: J&K-1; PHASE 5: J&K-2.
The last time I checked J&K had only 6 seats!,” Drabu tweeted.
The southern Kashmir has shown a cold response to electoral politics following the 2016 uprising.
During the recently-held local body elections, the region witnessed a near-total boycott of the electoral exercise.
The southern Kashmir districts have witnessed a spurt in local youth joining militancy and civilian protests following the killing of HizbulMujahideen commander BurhanWani in 2016.
On May 1, 2017, the ECI deferred the by-election for Anantnag parliamentary seat, saying that “free and fair poll is not possible due to prevailing ground situation and non-availability of sufficient security forces.”
This was the second time when the authorities could not hold the parliamentary election in the state.
On 18 April 1991, the President of India had promulgated the Representation of People (Amendment) Ordinance to enable the ECI to conduct LS elections without taking into account the parliamentary constituencies of J&K.
Subsequently, the Parliament passed “The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act” to replace the Ordinance.
The Muslim United Front, a coalition of parties formed in 1987 to take on NC-Congress combine, won three seats from the region out of four seats it got in the Valley. The MUF candidates emerged victorious on Anantnag, Homeshalibug and Kulgam assembly segments of the region.