In a move that is being seen as hinting at the possibility of holding the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections along with the Lok Sabha polls due next year, state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has asked Deputy Commissioners of all districts to submit proposals for appointment of Returning Officers (ROs) and Assistant Returning Officers for both the elections.
The CEO has asked the Deputy Commissioners to submit the proposals to his office within two days for further submission to the Election Commission of India.
The directive, sources said, was issued following a direction from the ECI for updating the previous appointments of ROs and AROs.
The Election Commission has to hold fresh Assembly polls in J&K before May 21 next year — the “outer limit” for holding fresh polls after the dissolution of a House is six months. The J&K Legislative Assembly was dissolved by Governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21.
Currently, Special Summary Revision of electoral rolls is in progress in the state, the last date for which is December 23. The final publication of electoral rolls will be on January 22 next year.
According to sources, simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assemblies polls in 2019 would save the state exchequer’s money and the authorities the trouble of seeking additional deployment of security forces time and again.
The National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah have also called for holding the Assembly polls along with the general elections.
Congress’s chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said Assembly elections should be held within six months so that people of the state have a democratically elected government.
BJP spokesperson Sunil Sethi said it was for the Governor-led administration to decide whether the situation was congenial for holding the Assembly elections and Lok Sabha polls simultaneously.
CPI(M)’s M Y Tarigami, however, has urged the ECI not to delay the polls. “…I would say that the sooner, the better,’’ he said.