Srinagar: After holding a daylong session with political parties and civil administration, the Election Commission of India on Saturday said a final decision over dates of the Assembly polls in J&K will be taken only after holding further consultations in New Delhi.
Addressing a news conference here, the Chief Election Commissioner of India V S Sampath said they sought opinion of political parties and government officials about conducting the elections in the state in the backdrop of last month’s devastating floods.
“Quite a few political parties hold the opinion that the polls should be held in the state. While some other parties mentioned that holding of polls will interfere with relief measures. We have taken due note of their views.
“We will get back to Delhi to hold further consultations before we come to a conclusion and announce our decision as soon as possible,” said Sampath, who was flanked by his two Election Commissioners HS Brahma and Dr Nasim Zaidi.
Asserting that the administration was prepared to conduct polls, Sampath said the elections wouldn’t interfere with the relief and rehabilitation in the aftermath of the deluge.
“We held a meeting with the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and other senior officials to get a feel about situation post-floods. We ascertained from District Magistrates, SPs and IGs and Divisional Commissioners about the status of flood damages through video-conferencing… Also, we have received feedback about security situation of various districts from Superintendent of Police,” Sampath said.
Not naming the political parties who opposed or favored the polls, he said, “There will be no interference in relief and rehabilitation measures. We are looking from poll point of view. Even in the event of holding polls, elections will never interfere with relief measures.”
The visit of full body of ECI comes close on the heels of a visit by a team led by Deputy Election Commissioner last week. The political parties are divided over holding of the polls in the state. While ruling National Conference and BJP have been opposing holding the polls in the current situation, Congress and opposition PDP want polls to be held on the slated time—the yearend.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said on Tuesday that the people were still struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, and holding Assembly elections now might result in “zero percent turnout”.
“We don’t believe that this is the opportune time to have elections; people are struggling to rebuild their lives as the most heavily populated areas of Kashmir Valley had been inundated with flood,” Abdullah had said after meeting union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi.
“Your capital city (Srinagar), which anyway has a less than optimum turnout in elections, tomorrow when zero percent turnout happens, who would you blame for that? You certainly can’t blame me because I am not the one pushing for elections,” Omar had added.
The six-year term of the incumbent government led by Omar expires on January 19, 2015.