News Frontliner Web Desk, 11 March 2019: As per the announcement of the Election Commission, on Sunday evening, the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly elections are not to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls, though the state will vote in the Lok Sabha elections on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29 and May 6.
The Election Commission cited constraints over availability of central forces and other logistics, as the chief reason for not holding assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir along with Lok Sabha polls.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora confirms that such a decision, has been arrived at after consulting the state administration and the officials of the home ministry.
National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah , sarcastically tweeted questioning Rajnath Singh’s assurance given earlier to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha as well as to the all party meeting regarding availability of all forces for simultaneous polls. According to him, the decision to not hold assembly elections in the state is equivalent to, “surrendering to Pakistan, to the militants and to the Hurriyat.”
He said that, this is the first time since 1996, that Assembly Elections in the state are not being held on time. It is to be noted that the tenure of the assembly is of 6 years in the state as compared to that of 5 yrs in the other states.
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted, “It is perplexing how the security situation in J&K is good enough to conduct Lok Sabha elections but not for assembly elections which are also due. Is there a diabolical motive?”
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti also expressed her dissatisfaction over EC’s decision and said that the move only confirms the “sinister” designs of the BJP government.
Jammu and Kashmir is currently under President’s Rule after the six-month-long governor’s rule ended on 19 December 2018.
Meanwhile, the commission has appointed three senior bureaucrats as observers to assess how conducive the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is for holding assembly elections. They three senior bureaucrats entrusted with the job are Noor Mohammad and Vinod Zutchi, both ex-IAS officers, and former CRPF Inspector General AS Gill. They will send their reports to the poll panel, following which a decision will be taken on the matter, afterwards.
The Election Commission will have the toughest assignment in the state owing to the relentless violence in the form of regular encounters. The Pulwama attack is like a fresh wound in the memory of the people. It will be a huge challenge to let the people of Kashmir come out and vote peacefully.