SRINAGAR: The Election Commission of India has ruled out holding the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It invoked security situation against holding the assembly polls while it announced the Lok Sabha polls in five phases in the state.
Announcing the seven-phase elections schedule across India, Chief Election Commissioner said that the Commission has been visiting the state and has been interacting with the political parties, the state administration and the Ministry of Home Affairs. He said the prevailing situation, lack of central forces and other logistical issues prevents the Commission from holding the state assembly elections alongside the Lok Sabha polls. He said the Commission will continuously monitor the situation in the state and take a call.
However, the Commission found no issues in holding the Lok Sabha polls across Jammu and Kashmir for the six segments, three in Kashmir, two in Jammu and one in Ladakh.
It is going to be in five phases – April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, and May 6.
Two seats each will go to polls in the first two phases, in the third phase there will be one seat and in fourth one seat and in the fifth phase there will be two seats. Sources said the South Kashmir, Anantnag seat will have polls in three phases. The seat remains vacant for more than three years after Mehbooba Mufti resigned and became Chief Minister. Though a by-election was scheduled for the seat in July 2017, the situation was so bad that it was cancelled. In an earlier by-election for central Kashmir Srinagar constituency, eight civilians were killed and the turnout was only seven per cent.
The Election Commission has appointed three Poll Observers including Noor Mohammad, A S Gill and Vinod Zutshi.
Omar Abdullah has reacted to the Election Commission decision in a series of tweets. “What happened to @rajnathsingh’s assurance to Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha as well as to the all party meeting recently in Delhi that all forces would be made available for simultaneous polls?,” Omar said in one tweet. “First time since 1996 Assembly elections in J&K are not being held on time. Remember this the next time you are praising PM Modi for his strong leadership.” In yet another tweet he added: “In 2014 we had Lok Sabha elections on time & assembly elections on schedule even after the most devastating floods. Shows how badly the BJP & earlier the BJP-PDP mishandled J&K.”