Special observers favours J&K polls in June

Three special observers, appointed by the Election Commission of India (ECI), have favoured holding J&K Assembly elections in June, it is learnt. In their report, submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs, they have recommended that polls be held immediately after Eid.

The observers — former IAS officers Vinod Zutshi and Noor Muhammad and former IPS officer AS Gill — met representatives of several parties, including PDP, Congress, BJP and Sajjad Lone-led Peoples Conference, during their visit to J&K last month.

“The special observers have favoured early Assembly elections, most probably in June. The report will be further submitted to the ECI, that will take a final call while keeping in view all security-related issues,” sources said.
The ECI would also take into account the challenge on the security front in view of the annual Amarnath Yatra starting from July 1.

On March 10, the ECI, while announcing the schedule of Lok Sabha polls, had said that Assembly elections would not be held in J&K with the Lok Sabha elections because of security concerns. It had said a large number of security personnel had to be deployed for protection of every candidate in J&K and availability of security forces was a constraint.

Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government since June 19 last year when the BJP pulled out of its alliance with the PDP. Currently, the state is under President’s rule, which came into force on December 20 after the expiry of the six-month Governor’s rule.

During the ECI team’s visit to J&K, all parties had unequivocally demanded simultaneous elections.

After criticism over the decision to not conduct simultaneous polls, the ECI appointed three special observers to re-assess the situation in the state. The NC, CPI(M), Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) and Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) chose not to meet the special observers.