ECI holds meet on J&K assembly polls; Special observers to visit state soon

Kashmir Times. Dated: 3/13/2019 1:53:07 PM

NEW DELHI, Mar 12(Agencies): The three special observers appointed by the Election Commission to suggest as to when Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir can be held, will visit the state soon.
Amid criticism over the decision not to conduct assembly and Lok Sabha polls simultaneously in Jammu and Kashmir, Election Commission on Tuesday held a meeting to take into account the affairs of the State. The Commission met its special observers for the State, AS Gill, Noor Mohammad and Vinod Zutshi, and discussed the situation before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and the modalities for the assembly elections, official sources said.
While announcing the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday, the poll panel had said that Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir cannot be held simultaneously due to security concerns flagged by the Centre.
The three observers Tuesday met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. The task cut out for the observers entails assessing the situation of Jammu and Kashmir on real time basis to enable the poll panel take a call on holding Assembly elections in the state.
“During the meeting, it was requested to the observers that they may kindly visit the state at the earliest...,” an Election Commission statement said. 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.
While there was a view that the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections can be held along with the Lok Sabha polls, but complex security situation in the state given the heightened tension along the India-Pakistan border titled views against it. While the Centre and the state administration, being managed by the governor, were against holding the two elections together, all political parties there favoured simultaneous polls during a meeting with the Election Commission earlier this week.
The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly's six-year term was to end on March 16, 2021, but it got dissolved after a ruling coalition between the PDP and the BJP fell apart. The other state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha have five-year terms.
“The Commission issued 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.
The Special Observers were likely to visit all three regions of the State including Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and will inter-act with representatives of major political parties, civil and police administration and all other stakeholders to ensure smooth conduct of Lok Sabha elections and assess possibilities on conduct of the Assembly polls.



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