SRINAGAR — A three-member team of “special observers” appointed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) arrived in Srinagar on Thursday to “assess the ground situation” for conduct of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The ‘special observers’ including former IAS officers Vinod Zutshi, Noor Muhammad, and former IPS officer A S Gill were scheduled to “assess the situation” here besides holding deliberations with the mainstream parties for the conduct of elections.
However, the mainstream parties showed mixed response over meeting the ECI delegation as some among them didn’t turn up to meet while some called upon them and pitched for simultaneous elections yet again.
The parties including National Conference (NC), CPI (M), Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) and Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) didn’t turn up to meet the delegation while People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Congress apprised the delegation about ground situation.
The parties who didn’t meet the delegation said they have already met the EC team headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and have apprised them about the ground situation assessed by them for the polls here. “We have already pitched for the simultaneous elections in the State. We have nothing to say in this regard now,” they said.
However, the parties including state Congress and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), People’s Conference (PC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) met the ECI delegation here and sought simultaneous elections here.
The Congress delegation headed by former minister and senior leader Taj Mohi-ud-din and former MLA Bandipora, Usman Majeed while as PDP delegation headed by former minister and former MLA Sonwar, Muhammad Ashraf Mir and former MLA Batamaloo, Noor Muhammad met the ‘Special Observers’ here and reiterated their demand of simultaneous elections in the State.
People’s Conference (PC) delegation led by Abdul Gani Vakil and Junaid Azim Mattoo and BJP leaders led by Asif Masoodi and M M War also called on ECI delegation and discussed the conduct of Assembly elections.
PDP leader, Muhammad Ashraf Mir said that they met the ECI delegation and pitched for Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that they had already urged the ECI to hold polls simultaneously and pitched for the early polls yet again.
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) General Secretary, Usman Majeed said that they apprised the ECI delegation about the ground situation and the resentment among the people after the ECI’s decision to delay the Assembly elections.
“We informed them that people here feel fishy behind withholding the Assembly elections as if the atmosphere is conducive for Lok Sabha election then why not for Assembly elections,” he said, adding that the ECI’s decision has affected the reputation of Election Commission and it seems they are following the policy of GoI.
“We demanded simultaneous elections here and I am sure the ECI delegation will take this issue with higher ups and the elections will be conducted before June,” he said.
PC leaders have also pitched for early Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir during the meeting with special observers.
BJP General Secretary (Organization), Ashok Koul said that a team of the party comprising Asif Masoodi and M M War met the ECI delegation and pitched for early elections in the State. “We had pitched for simultaneous elections in the past and raised similar views this time again,” Koul said.
Notably, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday announced seven-phase parliamentary polls, but decided not to hold assembly elections in J&K, which is presently under the President’s rule.
Pertinently, on March 04, a high-level delegation of the ECI arrived Srinagar on a 2-day visit to J&K for consultations with various political parties, state administration and other stakeholders ahead of upcoming election-2019.
The team began its visit by meeting the representatives of various political parties in Kashmir Valley to seek their opinion regarding the elections.
Election commissioners, Sushil Chandra and Ashok Lavasa, Deputy Election Commissioner, Sandeep Saxena, Director General ECI, Dilip Kumar, ADG Sheyphali Sharan, Director Nikhil Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer J&K, Shailendra Kumar were present during the meeting.