Remain vacate since 2016, polling for J&K’s Anantnag seat to be held in 3 phases

NEW DELHI: For the first time in India’s electoral history, polling for one Lok Sabha seat – Jammu and Kashmir‘s Anantnag constituency – will be held in three phases, the Election Commission announced on Sunday.

Militancy-hit Anantnag constituency remained vacated after Mehbooba Mufti became chief minister back in July 2016 following her father Mufti Mohammad Syed’s death. And for the past 32 months, no bypolls were held and the parliamentary seat remain empty without MP.

“For the first time perhaps, we are seeing elections in a single parliamentary constituency over three phases,” Congress state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir was quoted as saying to The Indian Express.

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“For five years, (Prime Minister) Modi sahib used to tell us that he has improved the situation in Kashmir. But today he has handed a certificate to himself that in five years Kashmir has reached the worst security situation.”

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who announced the Lok Sabha poll schedule, said the elections for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will not be held along with the Lok Sabha polls.

“We will have to carry out three phases of election for just one constituency – of Anantnag – so you can imagine how complicated it is,” he said.

The restive state will have five phases of voting for its six Lok Sabha seats.

In the first phase on April 11, voting will be held in Baramulla and Jammu constituencies, while Srinagar and Udhampur constituencies will go to vote in the second phase on April 18.

Voting in Anantnag will be held on April 23 and 29 and May 6, while Ladakh will also go to polls on May 6.

Counting for all the six Lok Sabha seats will be held on May 23, along with the rest of the country, and results would be announced the same day, election officials said.

With agency inputs