Situation not ripe for polls: Cong

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, Sept 12: Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) today said that the situation in Kashmir is not conducive for holding elections.
President of the JKPCC, Ghulam Ahmed Mir, addressing a press conference after the party’s Core Group meet here at Srinagar, said the P anchayat and Municipal polls were declared in the State without taking a stock of the situation on the ground.
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Mir said that the party will not take a call on these polls unless and until administration ensures free and fair elections. “The situation in the Valley is not conducive for elections whether anyone admits it or not. Whoever wants to participate in the elections has to cross several barriers and dangers. Neither Centre nor State administration has come forward in this regard. The mood which we saw in the afternoon meeting yesterday changed a lot till evening. The policies and decisions are changing every hour. In such a scenario, the Congress party has to deeply analyze the situation. Until administration takes responsibility and ensures free and fair elections which would reflect from their preparedness on the ground we will not take a call. There is confusion and chaos in the Centre, the State administration and their representatives”, he said.
“The Central Government and administration should clear their stand in front of the people of J&K whether they want to conduct elections or is it just a gimmick,” Mir said.
“For the last one week, Congress has held consultations with the leaders of all the three regions of State regarding the upcoming local body elections. We met the Governor twice during last two weeks. We want to be clear in front of the media but unfortunately, the Governor and the State administration lack clarity. It’s not for the first time we are facing this confusion and uncertainty. In 2017, the State and Central governments took the political parties on board for elections to the two Lok Sabha seats but all was done without assessing the ground situation. And everyone is aware of the outcome of the decision. Elections were held for one seat which ended with less poll percentage and bloodshed and the elections for the second seat was unilaterally canceled. Nineteen months have passed but the Election Commission is yet to answer it”, said Mir.
He accused the Governor of being politically guided.
“Ten days before, the Governor announced the elections and issued tentative schedule. It was the duty of Election Commission to take charge and form a schedule. The political parties who are entitled to take their decisions reacted after the announcement. But, Congress party has not received answers for the questions which they raised in front of Governor 10 days ago. And, in yesterday’s meeting we felt that the announcement was a sort of ground test. All is being done to praise a particular party at the national level”, Mir said.
He said that it is the Election Commission to take a call on elections and they have to first take stock of ground situation. “We have run this country for last 70 years and would not restrict ourselves on mere announcements. It’s the responsibility of the Election Commission to conduct the elections and before going for the exercise they have to ensure whether they are satisfied with the State law and order enforcement agencies. It’s the Election Commission, which is finally responsible for the conduct of the election”, he said.
“The series of the meetings which are being conducted from yesterday suggest that Government is thinking on the deferment of elections. In such situation, the Congress party would like Centre and State to clear their position first. They should come with clarity in front of people of the State and show their intentions. Whether they want to conduct elections or not. So far not a single face has come with an assurance. Close door meeting and issuing order will not serve any purpose”, Mir said.
The Congress president said that they will take Central leadership of the party on board before take a call on elections. “We are microscopically looking at the issue. We want that a credible face should come in front of people and ensure their preparedness. The Centre and State are themselves confused over the issue. They have no clear policy regarding Kashmir. We want Centre and State to clear their minds and policies and come in front of people. Congress will take a decision after that. We are sending two-three people to Delhi so that they can brief Delhi leadership about it and our Central leadership is also taken on board before taking any decision”, he said.