Top officials from the Jammu and Kashmir government will meet the Election Commission of India in New Delhi next week to discuss the possibility of holding the parliament and assembly polls simultaneously in the state.An official said the state’s chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, chief electoral officer Shailendra Kumar and director general of police Dilbag Singh would fly to New Delhi on February 18 to meet the E
On February 1, chief election commissioner Sunil Arora had said that the ECI team would visit Jammu and Kashmir next week to take stock of the situation before deciding on the assembly elections in the state. The commission however deferred the visit, second in a row.
A source said since the state administration was busy tackling the situation arising out of inclement weather in J&K and closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the ECI team decided to defer its visit.“Because of this (weather) situation, a high-level team from the state would instead fly to New Delhi to meet the ECI and explore the possibility of holding both the elections together,” said the official.
J&K is presently under president’s rule. Though the central government and state’s chief electoral officer have shown readiness to hold both the elections simultaneously, the ECI is yet to take a final call.
Earlier, the ECI deferred its two-day visit to J&K for a spot assessment of the situation regarding the holding of the assembly elections. The team, headed by CEC Sunil Arora, was to take final call on whether to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the state or defer the state elections.
On November 22, the ECI had talked about possibility of holding the parliament and assembly polls simultaneously. That time however, the then chief election commissioner OP Rawat added a rider that the final decision on dates would be taken only after considering “all aspects”.
A source said there was a possibility that after receiving feedback from the state team, the ECI team may visit the state, after the February 18 meeting, to assess the situation on ground.The state came under the governor’s rule on June 19, 2018, after the BJP pulled out of coalition with the PDP. After completion of six months of governor’s rule, J&K came under the president’s rule on December 19.As per rules, the fresh polls in J&K have to be held within six months after the dissolution of the Assembly.
During a meeting with authorities from the ECI, J&K’s chief electoral officer Shailender Kumar had conveyed to the poll body that the state election department was ready for conduct of both the polls simultaneously, a senior official said.
“But, before taking a final call, different viewpoints including those from security agencies should be considered,” Kumar had briefed the ECI on January 12. Later, during a meeting with the CEO, the state’s mainstream political parties had also demanded holding of the state polls at the earliest.