Several political parties from Jammu and Kashmir on Monday met an Election Commission of India team, which is on a two-day visit to the State, and called for “simultaneous” Assembly and parliamentary elections there.
The ECI team, comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Ashok Lavasa, also held discussions with senior police and administration officers “to get first-hand information on the ground situation” in the State which has witnessed several rounds of street and militancy-related violence since 2014.
The team met representatives of the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Congress, BJP, CPI(M), Peoples Conference, People’s Democratic party, Democratic Party Nationalist and Awami Ittehad Party, among others, in Srinagar and sought their inputs.
“Elections are soon going to be held to uphold the principles of democracy. The commission desires that these elections should be the most inclusive [and held with] absolute neutrality by the people involved in organising them,” Mr. Arora said.
NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar told the EC team that the situation in Kashmir is very fragile and an elected government is the only way bring normality. “The ECI should not wait to announce dates for holding both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls together,” he said.
PDP leader A.R. Veeri also told the ECI team that “prevailing alienation and unpredictable situation in J&K can only be handled by an elected government”.
Seconding their demand, Congress leader Taj Mohiudin said, “Security agencies should create a conducive atmosphere for polls.”
AIP chief Engineer Rashid said early elections were important to allow the local government to “deal with the issues of Article 35A and Article 370”.
CPI(M) leader M. Y. Tarigami pointed out that “in absence of an elected government, uncertainty in the State is deepening day by day”.
DPN chief Ghulam Hassan Mir said holding early elections would be a test “whether the ECI is an independent body or influenced by the Centre”.
The BJP said it is ready to face the elections. “We expressed our readiness to contest the elections as and when the Election Commission desired it,” BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur said.
The team will visit Jammu on Tuesday and meet the political parties there before leaving for New Delhi to take a final call on the elections in the State.