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EC announces assembly poll dates, stalemate on J&K

Skipping a decision on polls in Jammu and Kashmir, Election Commission announced one-day poll in Rajasthan, MP, Delhi and Mizoram while Naxalite-infested Chattisgarh will have two-phased elections.

By: Agencies | New Delhi |
October 14, 2008 1:46:20 pm

Skipping a decision on polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the Election Commission on Tuesday announced one-day poll in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Mizoram while Naxalite-infested Chattisgarh will have two-phased elections between November 14 and December 4.

The two-phased polls in Chattisgarh will be held on November 14 and 20 while elections will be held in Madhya Pradesh on November 25, Mizoram and Delhi on November 29 and Rajasthan on December 4.

Counting of votes in all the states will be taken up on December 8.

The commission is understood to have deferred a decision on polls in Jammu and Kashmir reportedly because of difference of opinion among the three members of the commission.

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No decision has been taken “at the moment” on holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir which is now under Governor’s rule, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami said at a press conference flanked by the other two commissioners Naveen Chawla and S Y Quraishi.

He said the commission is still assessing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

“We will get back to you as soon as we take a decision in Jammu and Kashmir. Forces are one part of the issues. There are so many other issues. I do not want to say anything more,” he said.

Asked whether it meant that elections will not be held before March because of winter, the CEC said “that you leave it to us”.

The government had informed the Commission that it was ready to hold Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir next month in three to four phases and as per Home Ministry’s assessment of the situation in the state adequate forces are available for conducting the exercise.

The assessment of the situation for holding polls in the sensitive state was made when Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta met the full Election Commission on October 10.

While two Election Commissioners were reportedly in favour of holding elections in the state, the CEC was understood to have some reservations on it.

Gopalaswami said the Commission had visited the state and held discussions with leaders of various political parties on the situation.

“We are still assessing the situation and will get back to you as soon as we take a decision,” he said.

While major political parties in the state — PDP and NC felt the current atmosphere was not conducive for the elections, BJP and the Left parties wanted immediate polls. The Congress said it was the Commission’s call.

The term of the Assembly, which was dissolved following the break-up of the Congress-PDP coalition in the wake of the Amarnath land transfer row, would have ended on November 20.

But since the state was placed under Governor’s rule, the elections have to be held before January 10.

The CEC said the polls in the five states would be conducted on the basis of delimited constituencies through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)

Poll schedule:

• Two-phased polls in assembly elections in Chattisgarh November 14 and 20.

• Polls will be held in Madhya Pradesh on November 25.

• Mizoram and Delhi to vote on November 29.

• No decision on Jammu and Kashmir yet.

• Assembly polls in Rajasthan on December 4.

• Counting of votes in all states on December 8.

No voting in valley

Reported differences among the Election Commissioners today appeared to have stalled a decision on holding elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which witnessed large scale violence triggered by the controversy over the Amarnath land row.

The Commission, which announced the assembly poll schedule for five states, did not give any decision on whether elections will be held in the troubled border state before the expiry of Governor’s rule on January 10.

Though Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami said at a crowded press conference that the EC is still assessing the situation in the state, the commission is understood to have deferred a decision on polls there reportedly because of difference of opinion among its three members.

While the two Election Commissioners, Navin Chawla and S Y Quraishi, were reportedly in favour of holding elections in the state, the CEC was understood to have some reservations on it.

Gopalaswami is understood to have told the other two Commissioners that he may give a note of dissent if the EC wants to go ahead with the polls there. He is said to be of the view that while elections can be held, there should also be adequate participation by the people.

In case of a split among the three, the decision of the majority would prevail and at the moment the Commission is said to be keen on avoiding a split verdict. However, there was no official word from the Commission on the issue.

“At the moment, no decision has been taken. We are assessing the situation,” said Gopalaswami, flanked by the other two commissioners. Replying to a volley of questions as to what prevented the EC from going ahead with the polls when the Centre was ready with forces for the exercise, he said “we will get back to you as soon as we take a decision. Forces are one part of the issues. There are so many other issues. I do not want to say anything more”.

Asked whether it meant that elections will not be held before March because of winter, the CEC said “that you leave it to us”. While key state political parties, PDP and NC, felt the current atmosphere was not conducive for the elections, BJP and the Left parties wanted immediate polls. The Congress said it was the Commission’s call.

The term of the Assembly would have ended on November 20. But since the state was placed under Governor’s rule, the elections have to be held before January 10.

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