On Wednesday afternoon, a host of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) workers assembled at their party headquarters in Srinagar and staged a protest against the Election Commission of India (ECI) for deferring the polls in Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency to May 25.

Modi hum se darta hai, police ko aage karta hai (Modi fears us; he pushes the police ahead) and gundagardi nahi chale gi (hooliganism won’t be tolerated),” they shouted. The miffed protesters burnt an effigy of the ECI and waved placards, likening the EC with the BJP. 

Some of the signs reads, “Don’t repeat 1987,” alluding to the widely-believed rigging in 1987 assembly polls.

The police closed the front gates of the party headquarters and pushed the protesters back as they were trying to march ahead to register their protest against the ECI’s decisions. 

A day before, on Tuesday, the ECI had issued a notification deferring the elections in Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat from May 7 to May 25.

The move came after the BJP, J&K Apni Party, J&K People’s Conference, Ghulam Nabi Azad-led DPAP, and two independent contestants, Ali Mohammad Wani and Arshad Ali Lone, submitted representations to the ECI demanding the postponement of elections, citing the recurrent closure of the Mughal Road, a shortest surface link connecting Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu division with Kashmir via Shopian, due to inclement weather conditions.

However, two of these parties, which sought deferment of the polls due to inclement weather — the BJP and the J&K PC — are themselves not contesting the election from this seat. JKAP and J&K PC are viewed as the BJP’s proxies, and there is a general feeling among people and political circles that they have formed an undeclared electoral alliance against the NC and the PDP.

Counter voices

The PDP and the NC are vehemently against the decision to postpone the polls. Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting the seat, attributed the postponement of polls with the BJP’s nervousness with the response the PDP is receiving from the people.

The party spokesperson, Mohit Bhan, told businessline that an overwhelming response from people towards Mufti unnerved the BJP and its proxies. “By deferring elections, they are trying to manipulate the elections,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, while addressing a poll rally in Dooru areas of Anantnag, Omar Abdullah said that the postponement of the elections was a glaring instance of conspiracy.

He said that the polls were deferred even when the weather improved.

A prominent tribal researcher said that the constituency has a significant nomadic population who are expected to return to the higher reaches by the time polling is held on May 25. “It may impact the poll percentage,” he said.