SRINAGAR: Kashmir’s oldest and largest political party, the National Conference, will not meet the team of observers that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has sent to Jammu and Kashmir to oversee preparations for Parliament elections that begin April 11.
“What is the need of meeting the ECI observers’ team again? We have already made our stand clear on Assembly elections in the state. Our stand remains the same which means conducting simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state,” said the NC’s statement to the press. “We have nothing more to add and there is no change on ground since we met the ECI team earlier. Hence we have decided not to meet the visiting ECI observers’ team.”
Earlier this week, the ECI announced that it would conduct only parliamentary elections in Kashmir even though all Kashmir-based political parties had demanded that state assembly elections also be conducted simultaneously. The political parties communicated their opinion to an ECI team that visited the valley before deciding the dates of the Parliament elections.
Now, the ECI has sent an observers’ team to J&K to oversee preparations and talk with political parties. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which until June last year was running the state government in alliance with the BJP, met the ECI observers’ team on Thursday, and again asked for simultaneous elections to the state assembly.
The PDP’s senior leader Rafi Mir told Kashmir Reader that the party held the opinion that elections must be held jointly, an opinion they communicated to the team of election observers once again today.
“Meeting them doesn’t dilute our position,” Rafi said of the meeting with the observers’ team.
Former legislator from the CPI(M) Muhammad Yousif Targami told Kashmir Reader that he did not meet the observers’ team because there was no need, as he had already communicated his view to the ECI.
“It is only an observers’ team, which does not have the mandate to take any decision. So we did not meet them. Hakeem Yaseen sahab and Ghulam Hassan Mir too did not meet them. It is not a boycott; it only means that we have the same position on elections,” Tarigami said.