CEC hints at holding LS, Assembly polls in J&K together

CEC hints at holding LS, Assembly polls in J&K together

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora addresses a press conference in Jammu. PTI

Hinting that Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir may be held simultaneously, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said on Tuesday that almost every political party in the state and the administration were on the same page over the issue.

“Almost all the political parties we met have favoured simultaneous Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections. The state administration has also favoured holding them simultaneously,” he said while addressing a press conference in Jammu at the end of the Election Commission's two-day visit to the state.

“During their presentations to us, no official sounded alarmist about the holding of the polls together,” the CEC said hinting that the polls might be held together in April and May.

However, he said, the Commission would be making the final announcement in New Delhi.

Regarding security concerns, Arora said, the Commission is indeed mindful of the specific challenging law and order situation in the state and especially in certain Assembly segments given their location and concerns.

“The Commission will look into due security arrangements while deciding on the timing and phasing of the elections and they will also keep in view the desire for restoring democratically elected government in the state,” he said.

Asked about separatists who boycott elections in the state, Arora said it is not the mandate of the Election Commission to bring those who boycott elections to vote.

Almost all political parties in Jammu and Kashmir had Monday said the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections should be held together in the state. The Assembly elections are due in the state in the wake of the dissolution of the House by governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21 last year. As per a Supreme Court ruling, the Assembly election should be held within six months of the dissolution of the House.

Earlier, Arora said, elections are soon going to be held to uphold the principles of democracy. “The Commission desires that these elections should be the most inclusive with absolute neutrality by people involved in organising them. Holding election in any part of India is a challenge because of various factors such as topography, population density, holidays etc,” he said.

The Commission asked the state administration to conduct operations on EVMs and VVPATs in presence of stakeholders such as political parties and candidates to ensure transparency. “You should share location of strong-rooms with stakeholders/ parties/ candidates to prevent any suspicion.” Saxena said.

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