Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir: EC to hold key meeting today

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JAMMU: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora will conduct a meeting, on Tuesday, to discuss modalities for Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections.

The Chief Election Commissioner on Sunday announced that no Assembly elections will be held in the state simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections 2019, owing to recent incidents of violence.

According to the sources, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora and two Elections Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra would meet the three Special Observers for Jammu and Kashmir, who were named yesterday by the Commission for monitoring smooth conduct of Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The Commission would issue terms and conditions for the Special Observers and hold detailed discussions with them on conduct of Lok Sabha elections and deferring of the Assembly polls,” sources said, adding role of the Observers and their reports and suggestions would be significant and acted upon by the Commission.

Three Special Observers named by the Commission yesterday while announcing schedule of general elections included Noor Mohammad, an IAS officer of 1977 batch, AS Gill, an IPS officer of 1972 batch and Vinod Zutshi, an IAS officer of 1982 batch.

“The Commission has been constantly accessing the prevailing condition in the state. Based on input, the constraint of availability of central forces and other logistics, the requirement of forces for security of candidates in wake of recent violence and keeping other challenges in mind EC has decided at this stage to announce the only schedule of Parliament election in J&K,”  Arora said in a press conference at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on Sunday.

Presently, the state is under the rule of the Governor since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of an alliance with Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party in June 2018.

The poll body’s decision triggered a political slugfest with opposition leaders alleging that elections in the state were deferred due to BJP’s “mishandling” of the situation.

Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted: “First time since 1996 Assembly elections in J&K are not being held on time. Remember this the next time you are praising PM Modi for his strong leadership.”

“In 2014 we had Lok Sabha elections on time & assembly elections on schedule even after the most devastating floods. Shows how badly the BJP & earlier the BJP-PDP mishandled J&K,” he said in another tweet.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati also hit out at the Modi government over the decision, saying, “Denying J&K assembly’s simultaneous poll with the Lok Sabha is poor reflection & indicative of Modi Govt’s failure of Kashmir policy. Forces are surely capable of holding poll for both on the same day much to relief of people. Centre’s logic is poor & BJP’s excuse is childish.”

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