Suspense continues over holding of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir later this year as no consensus has arrived between the political parties and Election Commission of India (ECI) over holding of the polls on the scheduled date.
A top official from the central government told KNS that holding elections in November-December is difficult as voter cards of thousands of people have been damaged in the floods. “Without election card how can a voter enter into a polling booth. Returning Officers can’t allow anybody to cast his vote without proving his identity,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention here that during the Parliament elections held earlier this year, then Union Health Minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had to face a piquant situation when Presiding Officer at a polling booth in Jammu stopped him from casting his vote following his failure to produce any document regarding his identity proof.
“Either the ECI has to hold elections immediately without any further delay or it would be very difficult to hold it in December when the whole Kashmir Valley is in the grip of chilling cold. The ECI has to announce the polling dates within coming few days or it would too late,” he added.
The ECI is studying the report of deputy election commissioner Vinod Zutshi, based on his visit to the state last week. According to his feedback, all parties in J&K, including Congress, Peoples Democratic Party and BJP want elections on time. National Conference was the only exception, demanding that the polls be postponed in the wake of devastation caused by the floods.
The NC stand is that elections can’t be held at a time when the floods have ravaged entire State, especially Kashmir. They want proper rehabilitation of flood victims first. However, NC’s coalition partner Congress favours holding Assembly elections in time.
On the other hand opposition PDP has asked the ECI to take a final call on the issue and “not allow the democratic process to derail.”
The BJP feels the time is right for polls in J&K as its image may have received a boost in the Jammu region following the Centre’s tough response to firing by Pakistani forces along the LoC and IB.
The term of Omar Abdullah-led NC-Congress government ends on January 5 next year. By then, a new government has to be in place or Governor Rule must be imposed as per J&K’s Constitution.
Meanwhile, deferred for 15 days, the final electoral rolls will be published on Wednesday by the State Election Department after nearly three months long hectic exercise of summary revision. The number of electoral rolls has for the first time in history of the State crossed 7 million.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Shah confirmed to KNS they are publishing final electoral rolls on Wednesday.