Election commissioner dismisses plaints of lack of level-playing field in J&K DDC polls

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir State Election Commissioner on Monday dismissed complaints of lack of a level-playing field in the DDC polls, saying the panel will ensure that all political parties have an equal opportunity to undertake election-related activities.

The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an alliance of several mainstream parties seeking restoration of the erstwhile state's special status which was revoked by the Centre last year, had on Saturday accused the administration of not allowing their candidates to campaign under the guise of protecting them from threats.

In a two-page letter to SEC K K Sharma, PAGD president Farooq Abdullah, claimed that security was being used as a pretext to impede and customise democracy in the union territory and that there was a lack of a level-playing field for major political parties.

The District Development Council (DDC) polls will be held between November 28 and December 19.

Addressing a press conference, Sharma said the commission has discussed Abdullah's letter and arrangements will be put in place so that the candidates who want to go for campaigning are able to do that.

After I received the letter, I discussed the issues in detail with the divisional administration. We have written a letter to them as well. It is imperative to secure the lives of the candidates, but at the same time, full arrangements and more arrangements will be provided so that the candidates and other people who want to go for campaigning, they are able to do that, Sharma said.

The SEC said after the media reports that the candidates of some parties were in cluster accommodations and facing difficulty in campaigning, the commission discussed the issue with all the district administrations.

"...Candidates have been taken to cluster accommodations, the goal is not to prevent them for campaigning. The complaint that some are being prevented from campaigning is false," he said.

The goal of the SEC is to conduct safe elections and if a candidate faces any difficulty, it could be security related, but it does not mean that they will not go out for campaigning, he said.

Sharma said the candidates should contact the respective SSP, DCs or, if needed, him to highlight any issue being faced by them. "We will immediately pass on instructions to police and DC to address the issues," he said.

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