The Election Commission will be visiting Jammu and Kashmir soon to access the ground situation and evaluate whether the elections in the state can be held before January 19, when the six-year term of the assembly comes to an end.
In case the commission decides to postpone the polls, it will have to make a recommendation to the Central government to impose Governor’s rule in the state on the condition that the management of elections will not be possible under the present circumstances.
The term of a legislative body can be extended only in case of imposition of emergency. “The rule will not apply for Jammu and Kashmir,” an EC functionary said, adding that the final view on the postponement will be taken once the EC members return from their visit to the state.
The EC was supposed to visit the state on Thursday and Friday but cancelled the visit because of the floods.
The big concern for the EC would now be whether the state can recover from the floods by late November — before the harsh winter sets in.
“The window available is very small,” an EC functionary admitted but was quick to add that the reality will emerge only after the ground visit and from reports of the J&K Chief Electoral Officer. As of now the CEO’s office is inaccessible and therefore, the EC has not received any report.
Another concern for the EC is availability of security forces for conducting the polls as most of them would be busy with relief and rehabilitation.
But, the EC’s decision on whether to postpone the polls depends on the local political parties who would be consulted during the commission’s visit. Most political parties in the state are in favour of postponing the polls to next spring.