EC Observers assess preparedness, requirements for Assembly polls

PDP joins NC, CPM boycott of high-level team

BJP, Cong, NPP want early elections

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 15: The Election Commission of India’s Special Observers today assessed conducive timing for holding Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir from political parties and civil and police administration during their separate meetings while PDP joined the National Conference and CPM in boycotting the Observers here saying the party has already conveyed its opinion to the full Commission for simultaneous conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State.
Noor Mohammad, AS Gill and Vinod Zutshi, all retired IAS and IPS officers, who have been designated as Special Observers for Jammu and Kashmir elections by the Election Commission of India reached here this afternoon after meeting district level civil and police officers and political parties in Srinagar. They conducted the similar exercise here.
Official sources told the Excelsior that in their meeting with the Deputy Commissioners and SSPs of the district, the Special Observers assessed preparedness and requirements for the Assembly elections in the State, which were deferred by the Commission while announcing 5-phase Lok Sabha polls for six Parliamentary seats.
“The Election Observers reportedly wanted to know from civil and police officers about preparedness for the Assembly polls and requirements of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) for security of candidates, polling stations, campaign rallies etc,” sources said, adding that the Government officers put forth their requirements and other opinion sought by the Observers.
The Special Observers, according to sources, took district wise feedback on the Assembly elections in both Jammu and Kashmir divisions during their meetings with the Deputy Commissioners and the SSPs.
On return to New Delhi tomorrow after three-day visit, the Special Observers will brief the Election Commission of India on view point of political parties and civil and police officers on the conduct of Assembly elections.
Meanwhile, National Conference, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and CPM didn’t meet the Special Observers here on the ground that they had already briefed the full Election Commission during their visit to the State
National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana said what change the Election Commission can expect in the situation of Jammu and Kashmir during past just 10 days when the full Commission had visited the State.
“The National Conference stand remained unchanged that the Commission should hold simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly in the State,” Rana said, adding there was no fun of meeting the Special Observers when the party’s stand was known to the Election Commission itself.
PDP leader and former Minister Zulfkar Choudhary, who had led the party delegation in their meeting with the Election Commission, said the party has called for simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections and its stand was very clear.
“We had apprised the Commission of our stand and now there was no need to reiterate the same before the Commission’s Observers,” Zulfkar said.
BJP general secretary, Narinder Singh, who met the Observers along with party leader, Rajinder Sharma said they told the visitors that the BJP was ready for Assembly elections anytime but since the Commission didn’t order simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls as demanded by the BJP, it should now keep in mind the holy month of Ramzan, tourist season, pilgrimage to Shri Amarnath Ji shrine and movement of Nomads to higher reaches in summer before announcing the Assembly election schedule.
“We want maximum turnout in the elections and the Commission should keep all pros and cons in view before taking any decision on the Assembly polls, which should be held at the earliest,” Singh said.
Former Ministers and senior Congress leaders, Raman Bhalla and Mula Ram met the Election Commission Observers and reiterated the party stand on conduct of Assembly polls with Lok Sabha elections or at the earliest possible dates.
Bhalla and Mula Ram said the Commission should have announced simultaneous polls in the State but since now Lok Sabha polls have been declared, it should hold the Assembly elections at the earliest possible dates to restore democratically elected Government in the State.
Former Minister and National Panthers Party leader, Harshdev Singh accompanied by Balwant Singh Mankotia wondered by the Election Commission didn’t announce Assembly elections along with Lok Sabha polls though there was consensus among all political parties on this.
“All political parties had favoured simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls,” Harshdev pointed out and criticized the Election Commission for going against the opinion of political parties. However, he hoped that good sense will prevail upon the Commission and they will announce Assembly elections in the State at the earliest.
The Special Observers were also scheduled to meet Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh before returning to New Delhi.