Full EC to visit J&K on Oct 18, 19 before deciding on elections

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Oct 14:  Full Election Commission of India headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) VS Sampath is visiting Jammu and Kashmir on October 18 and 19 for personally assessing situation post-floods in Jammu and Kashmir and take a decision on holding Assembly elections in the State, which were due in November-December but ruling National Conference wants them to be deferred to ensure relief and rehabilitation measures for flood victims.
Official sources told the Excelsior that full Election Commission’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir comes in the wake of a comprehensive report submitted by Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi after his three days visit to the State from October 7 to 9 in which he had mentioned opposition of some parties to the elections, post floods situation in Kashmir, relief and rehabilitation measures and support of majority political parties for holding elections on time.
Zutshi has reportedly mentioned weather factor in December-January in Jammu and Kashmir and points raised by the District Election Officers (DEOs) in his meeting with all of them through video conferencing. The points raised by the Deputy Commissioner, Budgam that it was not possible to hold elections in the State at this stage, also figured in the report.
Sources said that after considering the detailed report of Zutshi, taking into account the version of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K Umang Narula, different stands of political parties and weather predictions, the full Election Commission has decided to personally visit Jammu and Kashmir on October 18 and 19 for on spot assessment of the situation, inter-action with Election officials, top brass of administration and representatives of political parties.
The Election Commission comprised CEC VS Sampath and Election Commissioners HS Brahma and Nasim Zaidi.
They will visit Srinagar on October 18 and Jammu the next day before flying back to New Delhi and taking a decision on whether to go ahead with the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir in December or defer them to April-May.
The full Election Commission was expected to visit some flood affected areas in Srinagar, meeting CEO Umang Narula and his officials, hold detailed inter-actions with Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, Divisional Commissioners—Rohit Kansal and Shant Manu and all DEOs apart from meeting representatives of all registered national and State political parties to take their view point.
Sources said after returning to New Delhi, the Election Commission will take all aspects into account before arriving at a conclusion and announcing its decision on whether the Assembly elections will be held in December or deferred to April-May as they can’t be held between January to March due to snowfall and adverse weather conditions in mountain locked State.
Ruling National Conference has opposed Assembly elections in the State at this stage saying the relief and rehabilitation of flood victims should be priority and not the elections. The NC was of the view that imposition of Model Code of Conduct after announcement of elections till completion of counting could hamper relief and rehabilitation operation for flood affected victims. Some other parties want that relief and rehabilitation should be left to the new Government, which will be formed after the elections.
In their meetings with Zutshi, Congress, the coalition partner of NC, PDP, BJP, NPP, BSP and some other parties had supported timely Assembly elections in the State.
Term of 11th Assembly of the State would expire on January 19 and if the new Assembly is not constituted by then, the State will have to be brought under spell of Governor’s rule till the new Government is formed.
During 2008 also, J&K had to be brought under President’s rule in July after PDP had withdrawn support to Ghulam Nabi Azad led Government. The elections were then held in 7 phases from November 17 to December 24 while counting was held on December 28, the new Ministry was sworn-in on January 5, 2009 and the Assembly was constituted on January 19, 2009. J&K Assembly has term of 6 years contrary to 5 years term of Lok Sabha and other State Assemblies.


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