The Election Commission appears to be inclined towards holding assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir on schedule as its team feels that the ground situation is conducive to conduct the elections despite the state having been hit by the worst floods it has seen in 60 years.
EC officers, however, insisted that the final decision would be taken by the commission after holding deliberations with security agencies, the weather department and the national disaster management authority. “Nothing is final. We are still discussing the issues regarding polls,” an EC functionary said.
A final decision in this regard is likely to be announced after counting of votes in Maharashtra and Haryana on October 19.
An EC team led by its deputy election commissioner Vinod Zutsi had asked the state’s chief electoral officer to notify returning officers for all 87 assembly seats. “Notification of the returning officers for each assembly segment is a must pre-requisite for conducting the polls,” an EC official said, hinting that the poll watchdog was keen to conclude the polling process before January 19, when the new assembly has to be notified.
The EC’s team has also instructed the CEO to submit tentative phase-wise schedule for conducting the polls considering the adverse climatic conditions.
Barring the ruling National Conference, all political parties in the state have demanded that the polls be held on time.
Senior lawyer Ashok Bhan has urged the EC to defer the polls in “public interest” as the devastation has caused immense “mental and economic trauma” to the local population.