23 September 2019 08:33 AM

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JEHANGIR ALI | 14 MARCH, 2019

EC Appointed Observers Arrive in Srinagar to “Assess Feasibility” of Elections

ECI’s decision not to hold assembly and LS polls together in J&K has sparked an uproar here


SRINAGAR: The three member team of observers appointed by the Election Commission of India arrived in summer capital Srinagar today to meet the political parties and “assess the feasibility” for holding the assembly elections in J&K.

Upon their arrival, the team drove to the Lalit hotel located on the upscale Gupkar Road where they will hold one-on-one meetings with the regional parties for discussing the timing and phasing of the state assembly polls.

The team will also meet the civil and police administration of Kashmir Valley later in the day.

The Opposition National Conference is boycotting the meeting, a spokesperson of the party, which emerged as third largest in 2014 assembly polls, said.

“NC has already made it position clear on LA and LS polls. Our demand of having simultaneous assembly and LS elections in the state in our earlier meetings remains as it is,” the spokesperson said.

The ECI had appointed former IAS officers Vinod Zutshi and Noor Muhammad, and former IPS officer A S Gill, as special observers to assess the feasibility of holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to their mandate, the observers would make a real-time assessment of the situation by meeting political parties, district and state authorities and other stakeholders, and discuss modalities for holding the assembly elections.

The ECI’s decision to not hold the assembly elections simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir has sparked a massive uproar with the regional political parties like National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party accusing the Centre of “eroding the democratic set-up” in the state.

However, sources in the government said it is “impossible” to hold the state assembly polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections given the deteriorating security situation in the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing.

“For holding Lok Sabha polls for Baramulla constituency alone, we need 400 companies of central paramilitary forces. If assembly polls are held simultaneously, it will require massive deployment. We can’t compromise on security,” a top government officer said.

Yesterday, former chief minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to criticise the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government for delaying the state assembly elections in the troubled state.

“Dear @narendramodi Sahib, it is good to see you appealing to famous people to increase voter turnout however at the same time your government has consciously disenfranchised people in J&K by not holding Assembly elections on time,” Omar said in a series of tweet.

The former chief minister wrote on micro-blogging site that the right to choose an elected government, “as opposed to being governed by a handpicked nominee of the central government, is the “hallmark of the sort of democracy you (the PM) are tweeting about”.

(Cover Photo: BASIT ZARGAR)

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