Jammu and Kashmir parties want EC to hold Lok Sabha, state assembly elections simultaneously


The demand for simultaneous elections in Jammu and Kashmir has been pitched as the Election Commission of India (ECI) began a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir from Monday to assess the feasibility of holding the Lok Sabha and the assembly polls simultaneously. According to a report in The Indian Express, political parties in the state have impressed upon the ECI to hold the polls simultaneously. The state is currently under Presidents Rule since December 19, 2018, which was necessitated as per the rules at the end of the six month period under Governors Rule imposed on 19 June 2018 after the fall of PDP-BJP government. The EC team, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, met representatives of political parties in the Valley as well as top officials of the security establishment and civil administration. Delegations of National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Pradesh Congress Committee and other smaller parties met the EC team to put forth their views about holding of assembly elections in the state. We impressed upon the Commission that there is no reason why Assembly elections cannot be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha, Wani, party general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and senior leader Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan comprised the NC delegation which met the EC team for about 15 minutes. Wani added that they informed the commission that restoration of an elected government in the state was urgently needed as the Governors administration was taking decisions on matters with widespread implications. Peoples Democratic Party delegation led by Abdul Rehman Veeri said his party also wanted an early election to the state assembly so that a peoples government is put in place. However, reportedly when asked if PDP delegation had sought assembly polls be held alongside Lok Sabha elections, Veeri was non-committal and said that the elections should be held as soon as possible. Taj Mohiuddin from the Congress party delegation said that they highlighted the fact that holding simultaneous polls can lead to higher voter turnout as was witnessed in 2008 assembly polls. Mohiuddin said while the Governors administration might be doing its job well, Presidents Rule cannot be an alternative to an elected government in terms of redressal of problems faced by the people. CPI(M) delegation led by M Y Tarigami told the Commission that the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir should be resumed at the earliest and advocated holding Lok Sabha and state assembly polls together in the state. Meanwhile, CEC Arora asked officials to uphold the principle of democracy to ensure that the upcoming polls are held with absolute neutrality and remain most inclusive. The top poll body has also asked the authorities to mobilise people and create an atmosphere free of inducement and intimidation by deploying sufficient security personnel on the ground. Beside stressing upon the state authorities to strictly monitor the candidates poll expenditures and ensure that they do not breach the expenditure limits and asked the administration to demonstrate Electronic Voting Machines and Voter-verifiable paper audit trails operations to stakeholders such as political parties and candidates to ensure transparency. The ECI team will conduct a similar exercise in Jammu on Tuesday where the ECI team will meet Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam and DGP Dilbag Singh separately.

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