The Election Commission (EC) is likely to announce the dates for the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections soon.
Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath here on Saturday said the announcement would be made in New Delhi shortly. “We will be going back to Delhi as we require some more deliberations on the issue before we arrive at a conclusion and announce the dates,” he said.
Eection commissioner HS Brahma, however, hinted that the election dates would be announced along with the dates of the Jharkhand assembly elections. “We won't be able to decide the dates sitting here, as Jharkhand elections are also due and getting delayed due to flood situation in Jammu and Kashmir. We will have to take into account all these factors before coming to a conclusion,” said Brahma.
“When we made announcements for the Haryana and Maharastra assembly elections in September, we had said the EC would make announcement for the Jammu and Kashmir polls only after assessing the flood situation there,” said Sampath.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission held meeting with representatives of various political parties in the state, seeking their opinion on holding the elections.
The EC, which landed in the state in full capacity, also had detailed discussions with bureaucrats and police officials to review the infrastructure required for conducting elections in the state.
“The political parties have very clear views about conducting elections in the state. Some of them were in support of holding elections on time, while others were of view that elections would interfere in the relief and rehabilitation process, which was of prime importance,” said the Chief Election Commissioner.
He, however, refused to divulge details of deliberations with the parties.
Hindustan Times had earlier reported that the ruling National Conference (NC) was for deferment of the elections, while political parties such as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress were in favour of holding elections on time.
The parties have reiterated their stand in their meeting with the full commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath and attended by election commissioners HS Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, who arrived in the Valley on Saturday.
As per officials, out of 46 assembly constituencies in the Kashmir Valley, more than 20 were affected by the floods in the first week of September.
The commission, however, said “the state’s preparedness for holding elections is thorough”. “The state is fully prepared to hold elections, but we want to assure that holding elections will not interfere with the relief and rehabilitation process,” said Sampath.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the Election Commission, NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said the floods had affected people’s lives and conducting elections would affect the rehabilitation process.
“Time is not conducive for elections, as people are trying to get back to life that was badly affected by the floods,” said Sagar.
However, the Pradesh Congress Committee said delay in conducting polls would necessitate imposition of governor’s rule in the state that would not be a good option.
“Governor’s rule is not a substitute to a democratic process. Only elected representatives can serve people better. The human tragedy that stuck the state, needs people’s representatives for providing them a succor,” said Ghulam Nabi Monga, PCC vice-president.
Meanwhile, the PDP also reiterated its stand that rebuilding Kashmir would need a new government.