ASSEMBLY POLLS: Jammu joins chorus for early elections

Mainstream political parties in Jammu Friday pitched for holding the state assembly elections “as soon as possible”, even as the state administration seems to be averse to the idea “for a host of reasons”.

In their separate meetings with three “special observers” appointed by the election commission of India (ECI) to “assess the ground situation” for holding the assembly polls in the state, the political parties in Jammu reiterated the demand for holding the elections without any further delay. The same stance has been taken by political parties in Kashmir.

The observers including former IAS officers Vinod Zutshi and Noor Muhammad and former IPS officer AS Gill reached Jammu this afternoon to interact with political parties and officials from the civil and police administrations.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, senior Congress leader Mulla Ram, who was part of the party delegation which met the observers, said they demanded immediate elections.

“We told the panel that delaying assembly elections will boost the morale of anti-national forces,” he said.

There is no justification for delaying the polls especially after the state held the panchayat and urban local body elections recently, he said.

“There can be political motives behind the decision of not holding the assembly polls alongside the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

Another Congress leader Raman Bhalla said they have “no hope” on the team of observers.

“Irrespective of political affiliations, everybody in one voice advocated for simultaneous elections, but in Delhi they (ECI) took a decision under some pressure and deprived the people of J&K of their democratic right to elect their own government,” Bhalla alleged.

The J&K BJP said they are also in favour of early elections.

“There is no change in our viewpoint. We have favoured simultaneous Lok Sabha-Assembly polls,” BJP’s general secretary (organisation) Ashok Koul told Greater Kashmir.

Narinder Singh, a BJP leader, said the timing of elections should be convenient to all voters.

“The commission should frame the schedule of elections keeping in view the amarnath yatra, Eid, and movement of nomads towards upper reaches, to ensure maximum participation of people in the polls,” he said.

The Panthers Party also demanded that elections should be held without any further delay.

“We told the observers that the ECI is an independent institution and it shouldn’t come under any influence. It should respect the sentiments of political parties of the state,” PP leader Harshdev Singh said.

He said there is no justification for delaying the polls.

“If the atmosphere is conducive for the parliamentary polls, why it is not conducive for the assembly elections?” he asked.

Later, the ECI observers interacted with district election officers, police chiefs of districts and divisional commissioner Jammu via a video-conference.

Meanwhile, a source told Greater Kashmir that the state administration seems to be “disinclined” to holding the assembly elections immediately.

“Many deputy commissioners of Kashmir province yesterday told the special observers that June is not the feasible time for holding the elections,” the source said, adding that they cited preparations for Amarnath yatra, peak tourist season, horticultural activity and academic calendar.

The Amarnth Yatra begins on July 1.

The source also disclosed that the police are also not in favour of holding the assembly polls before September.

According to another source, the ECI-led panel would Saturday meet chief secretary BVR Subhrahmanyam and director general of police Dilbag Singh before leaving for New Delhi.

“They (observers) would soon give feedback to ECI which will then take the final decision,” the source said.

There is a possibility that the ECI would soon make any announcement on state polls, without announcing the exact schedule.

“The polls would be held either in June or October-November,” the source said

YOGESH SAGOTRA