ECI team visiting JK to take final call on Assembly polls

A high-level team of Election Commission of India is visiting Jammu and Kashmir later this month to take call on the timing of Assembly polls in the state.
ECI team visiting JK to take final call on Assembly polls
Representational Pic

A high-level team of Election Commission of India is visiting Jammu and Kashmir later this month to take call on the timing of Assembly polls in the state.

A source said the ECI team was expected to visit the state after January 26. The panel will hold consultation with different political parties and meet top brass of security establishment and officials from state administration to decide on timing of the polls, said the source.

On November 22, the day after Governor Satya Pal Mailk dissolved the state assembly, the ECI had talked about possibility of holding parliament and assembly polls simultaneously. That time however the chief election commissioner OP Rawat added a rider that the final decision on dates would be taken only after considering "all aspects".

On January 2 Union home minister Rajnath Singh however put the ball in ECI's court saying it was for the body to decide when to hold Assembly elections in J&K.

"The election commission will make its mind on whether to hold parliament and assembly polls simultaneously or otherwise only after its visit to the state, factoring in the requirement and availability of the forces and other conditions," said the source.

Earlier this week the Governor revealed that all political parties in the state, barring Peoples Democratic Party, have expressed their support for holding both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls simultaneously.

The state came under Governor's rule on June 19, 2018, after BJP pulled out of coalition with the PDP. After completion of six months of governor's rule, J&K came under the President's rule on December 19.

While, as per rules the fresh polls in J&K have to be held six month after dissolution of the Assembly, various reports have been suggesting that the polls may be pushed towards end of this year.

During a meeting with authorities from the ECI, J&K chief electoral officer (CEO) Shailender Kumar conveyed to the body that the state election department was ready for conduct of both the polls simultaneously, a senior official said.

"But, before taking a final call different views points including those of security agencies should be considered ," Kumar had briefed the ECI on January 12, making clear that the state election department was ready for holding both Lok Sabha and state elections simultaneously.

The official said the ECI wasn't averse to holding both the polls simultaneously. On its part the office of the CEO will be ready with revised electoral rolls by January 31 and before this date the ECI can't take a call on timing of the elections.

Today, the CEO held the meeting with representatives of the political parties to get their views on timing of the polls and informed them about the preparedness on part of the state election body for holding of the Assembly polls.

"The election commission of India will also take into consideration the views of state election body before deciding on timing of the state polls," said the official.

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