Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Friday said that the government was seized of the issue regarding non-campaigning of the candidates with the upcoming local body elections just a week away from commencing.
Responding to a letter by CPI(M) leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, who had raised the issue of candidates being kept away from their constituencies and not being allowed to campaign, the Lieutenant Governor said: “The issue is already in my notice and necessary instructions stands conveyed to the concerned. I am sure that the coming elections will go a long way in strengthening the Panchayati Raj Institutions.”
The response by the Lieutenant Governor as well as the letter was released by Tarigami. “The first ever District Development Council (DDC) elections are commencing in next few days and to make the process credible, the participation of voters is imperative. However, a good number of candidates, who are contesting these polls, have been kept away from their constituencies and they have been bundled in ‘cluster accommodations’,” Tarigami said.
“After filing their nomination papers, they are not allowed to hold campaigning in their respective segments due to a perceived threat to their lives. Confining candidates against their wishes has severely restricted their movement and ability to campaign.”
Even in some cases, Tarigami said they are not allowed to attend party meetings. “And some cases have surfaced where opposite candidates are sent in a same vehicle to a village for campaigning and are asked to campaign together,” he said.
“Several candidates from far off places were sent to hotels in Srinagar soon after they filled the nomination forms last week. Not just the voters, but the families of the candidates are also concerned,” he said, adding, “You may have come to know about these issues through media reports as well. It is a big concern and there is lot of dissatisfaction on ground over such arrangements. Who wins and who loses, the decision must lie on electorate.”
He said democracy must finally win. “For that the process must be made secure and credible. It is advisable not to put avoidable restrictions on the contesting candidates and instead their legitimate movement for the campaigning in their respective areas must be effectively facilitated,” he said, adding, “Ensuring a free and fair environment for this process is essential.” (GNS)