Hold assembly polls at earliest: ECI’s observers told in Kashmir

JUNAID SIDIQ. Updated: 3/15/2019 11:57:22 AM Front Page

NC, CPI (M), PDF, DPN boycott; interaction in Jammu today

SRINAGAR: The mainstream political parties in Srinagar on Thursday met the three special observers appointed by the Election Commission and pitched for the earliest assembly polls in the state, even as some regional parties including National Conference boycotted the meeting.

The three observers -- Noor Mohammed, Vinod Zutshi and A S Gill – today reached Srinagar for a two-day visit to assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir on real time basis to enable the poll panel take a call on holding assembly elections in the state.

The team interacted with representatives of various political parties and also the officials of the state government to get a briefing on the security situation for holding elections in the state.

The team will hold similar interactions with representatives of political parties and officials in Jammu on Friday.

All the parties which met the team today asked it to conduct early assembly elections in the state.
Senior Congress leader Taj Mohi-ud-Din who was leading the delegation, said they again requested the ECI team to conduct simultaneous polls in the state.

“We expressed our disappointment to the ECI team for not holding simultaneous polls in the state. We told them that it was unfortunate that instead of listening to the representatives of people the ECI adhered to the advice of state administration,” Mohi-ud-Din said.

Mohi-ud-Din said they also told ECI that apart from few volatile constituencies in south Kashmir, they can easily manage to hold assembly polls in the rest of Kashmir division.

“We request them to announce the assembly dates as early as possible,” Mohi-ud-Din said.

Earlier this month, the mainstream political parties had pitched for simultaneous parliamentary and assembly polls during their meeting with the ECI. However, without paying any heed to their request, the commission citing security concerns announced the dates of only Lok Sabha polls for the state.

Amid growing criticism of the ECI’s decision to withhold assembly polls, the ECI had appointed these observers to assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir for holding the state elections.

Senior PDP leader Mohammad Ashraf Mir, said that during their meeting with ECI team they requested for the early announcement of assembly polls in the state.

“We requested them to announce the dates of the assembly polls, so that the apprehensions among people will end,” Mir said. “We told the ECI team that their action for not holding the simultaneous polls has saddened Kashmiris.”

Senior Peoples Conference (PC) leader Abdul Ghani Vakil said their party pitched for ensuring a conducive atmosphere for the assembly polls before the ECI team.

“We requested the ECI team that before conducting the assembly polls, there is a need of confidence building measures so that maximum people can participate in the elections,” Vakil said.

“The low voter turnout will be a mockery of democracy,” he said.

However, the National Conference (NC), CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) chairman Hakeem Mohamad Yaseen and Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) president Ghulam Hassan Mir boycotted the meeting.

The NC decided not to meet the EC observers, saying the party has nothing more to add to its demand of having simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls in the state.

“What is the need of meeting the ECI observers team again? We have already made our stand clear on Assembly elections in the state. Our stand remains the same which means conducting simultaneous assembly, Lok Sabha elections in the state,” NC General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said in a statement.

Sagar said postponement of assembly polls can have serious ramifications across the state.

“The ones who took this incoherent decision must be up to some mischief otherwise there is no sound reason for not conducting both assembly and LS elections together,” Sagar said. “If the situation is conducive for parliament elections, what stops them from conducting assembly elections at the same time.”

CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) Chairman Hakeem Mohamad Yaseen and Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) President Ghulam Hassan Mir issued a joint statement.

“The leaders of the three parties didn’t meet the special observers of team, as they had already put forth their position about holding the simultaneous polls in the state before the Election Commission last week,” they said in a joint statement.

Meanwhile, state government sources said that Assembly elections can take place ahead of the annual Amarnath Yatra that begins on July 1.

"The general consensus is that the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections can be held with adequate security deployments before this year's Amarnath Yatra which begins on July 1," the sources said.

"There has been a re-thinking on holding the state Assembly polls,” they added.

The sources added that during a meeting in New Delhi between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Governor Satya Pal Malik, it was decided that security concerns of the state could be addressed after the voting ends on May 19.

The decision to delay the Assembly polls has been criticised by all political parties in the state, except the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Jammu and Kashmir is under the President's Rule since 19 December 2018.

The PDP-BJP government in the state fell on 19 June 2018 after the national party pulled out of the coalition.

Since the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has been dissolved, the Election Commission is bound to hold fresh polls there as well within a six-month period, which will end in May.

Almost all political parties in Kashmir have advocated holding the state assembly polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.

Updated On 3/15/2019 11:57:50 AM

Comment on this Story