Simultaneous polls unlikely in Jammu and Kashmir, MHA backs Governor’s security concerns

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Published: February 19, 2019 1:05:19 PM

The meeting was held to help the ECI in taking a decision on holding Lok Sabha elections as well as the assembly polls in the state, which is currently under President's rule.

J&K representatives reiterated their position and were backed by the MHA. (File/Representational)

The Election Commission of India (ECI) was briefed on Monday regarding the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of Pulwama terror attack in which at least 40 CRPF personnel were martyred. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is learnt to have backed the state administration’s security concerns in a meeting called by the ECI.

A high-level team of the MHA, led by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, on Monday held a meeting with the poll body. MHA team apprised the EC about the ground realities in the state, the strength of central forces currently deployed and the additional forces which could be made available for election duties.

According to a report by The Indian Express, the state administration had first indicated its security concerns on holding J&K polls jointly with Lok Sabha last month. Tthe poll body had asked the state Chief Secretary and police chief to come back with concrete data and information to back its view. On Monday, the J&K representatives reiterated their position and were backed by the MHA.

The meeting was held to help the ECI in taking a decision on holding Lok Sabha elections as well as the assembly polls in the state, which is currently under President’s rule.

The EC will have to take a decision on whether to hold Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously or conduct the assembly polls later in the year based on the assessment provided by the MHA.

The EC is expected to announce the schedule for Lok Sabha elections in the first fortnight of March. Assembly polls are expected to be held with Lok Sabha elections simultaneously in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Governor’s rule was imposed in the state on June 19, 2018, after the state plunged into a political crisis when the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition government was reduced to minority following withdrawal of support by the saffron party. BJP had 25 members in the assembly. Later, the governor on November 21 dissolved the 87-member state assembly, which was under the suspended animation, after the PDP, supported by the Congress and arch-rivals National Conference, tried to stake claim to form the government.

When the Governor’s rule expired on December 19, 2018, President’s rule was imposed in the state as under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no provision for extension of Governor’s rule.

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