ECI to hold high-level review of election preparedness next week

ECI to hold high-level review of election preparedness next week
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Srinagar, Feb 20: The Election Commission of India is holding high-level review of arrangements for Lok Sabha elections in the country including sensitive Jammu and Kashmir next week.
Sources said that the Commission will take feedback on holding the elections in all the three regions of the Jammu and Kashmir State along with the general Lok Sabha elections in India.
Official sources said that Election commission will review the election preparedness with concerned officials and adding that the Commission will suggest certain guidelines to be followed for conduct of free, fair and smooth elections.
However, sources maintained that Election Commission of India was yet to take call on holding Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said the Commission in the case of J&K has to obtain reports from the state election office, the State Government and finally the Union Home Ministry before deciding on whether it will hold the elections in all the three regions along with the general Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, according to reports the Election Commission of India is however seriously mulling to go for parliamentary elections in Jammu and Ladakh region along with the general Lok Sabha elections in India while three parliamentary seats of Kashmir won’t witness polls and would be merged with the elections for Assembly seats.
The reports said that after taking feedback from security and other top officials of the administration in the State, the ECI has agreed in principle to go for simultaneous Lok Sabha polls in the country along with Jammu and Ladakh region but not in Kashmir that has three Lok Sabha seats.
“Because of the security atmosphere, it is not feasible to hold elections in Kashmir for three Lok Sabha seats. The plan is to club parliamentary seats of Kashmir with the Assembly elections,” the report has said.
The report said that in Kashmir of late, the security scenario has worsened in the wake of deadliest ever fidayeen attack on the CRPF convoy that resulted in the killing of 49 CRPF men and injuries to some two dozen paramilitary troopers.
In Jammu there are two Parliamentary seats Jammu- Samba and Udhampur-Doda while Ladakh has one. Kashmir has three seats—Srinagar-Budgam, Baramulla-Kupwara and Anantnag-Kulgam.
In 2014 elections, BJP had won three seats, two in Jammu and one in Ladakh while PDP had bagged all three seats of Kashmir. However, when PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti took over the reins of the State as the chief minister after her father’s death, the Anantnag-Kulgam parliamentary seat fell vacant and didn’t witness elections due to the “highest level of security concerns vis-à-vis rising number of local militants.”
A source said that in the recent review by ECI where in top security officials from the State participated in New Delhi, it was decided in principle that elections for three Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir will be put on hold and held along with the Assembly polls later.
“There are genuine security concerns as far as holding parliamentary elections in Kashmir is concerned. So the plan is to hold polls for Jammu and Ladakh Lok Sabha seats along with the country-wide polls,” he said. However, the final announcement about the decision would be made by the ECI after some time.
At present the J&K State is under president’s rule as the Governor S P Malik ended after six-month stint. The State plunged into the Governor’s rule after the BJP withdrew the support from the PDP. Elections in the State are due this year. (KNS)