“In Favour Of Simultaneous Lok Sabha, Assembly Polls”, Say J&K Parties

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'Start One Nation, One Election From Kashmir', Say J&K Parties

J&K has not had a state election in six years (File).

Srinagar:

The National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Congress, and Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Democratic Progressive Azad Party have called for simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which is under President’s Rule and has not had a state poll for six years now.

This comes amid reports the Election Commission of India – a poll panel team began its two-day visit Monday to review prep work before announcing dates – is considering such a move.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and that of Ladakh, will hold a general election for its six Lok Sabha seats in April/May and is expected to hold Assembly polls – the first step in restoration of statehood – by September 30, as ordered by the Supreme Court.

READ | In Historic J&K Ruling, Supreme Court Sets Election Deadline

Senior NC leader Nasir Sogami and former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad – part of the ‘One Nation, One Election’ commission set up by the government to explore that possibility – have spoken out, with the latter claiming “people are more concerned about Assembly polls”.

“I am in favour of simultaneous elections in J&K .I want elections by midnight. The people of J&K are more concerned about assembly elections than parliament elections,” Mr Azad said.

Mr Azad is likely to contest the Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary seat, which is currently held by Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference. The seat has traditionally flipped between the Peoples Democratic Party of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the NC.

“I’m not ruling out contesting from Anantnag-Rajouri parliament constituency. Lots of people are asking me to contest. Demand of my being in Parliament is more,” he told NDTV.

Mr Sogami – who spoke to NDTV after the NC met a team from the Election Commission of India – said the NC had also demanded simultaneous elections in the union territory.

“This (simultaneous polls) is also in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of ‘One Nation, One Election’,” he said, adding the NC had also said state polls are long overdue.

The National Conference also demanded a level playing field for both polls.

On Monday the poll panel team, led by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, met representatives from political parties. The ECI has already met Union Home Ministry officials.

The centre has already sanctioned the deployment of 600 paramilitary companies to ensure the safe conduct of elections in J&K; this is in addition to sizeable existing security set-ups.

A BJP delegation also met the poll panel team, and said the party is ready for Assembly polls. However, the party left announcement of dates to the discretion of the Election Commission.

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