EC discuses with parties in J-K on poll timing

SansadTV Bureau

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath with Election Commissioners, Harishankar Brahma and Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi, after meeting with political parties at SKICC, in Srinagar

The Election Commission on Saturday interacted with political parties in Jammu and Kashmir as part of exercise to decide the timing of assembly polls in the State which was recently ravaged by floods.

While the National Conference told the full commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, who arrived here this morning, that time was not conducive for polls in view of large scale destruction caused by the floods last month, ruling coalition partner Congress and opposition parties including PDP have supported holding polls before the end of this year as per schedule.

At least 25 of the 46 assembly constituencies in Kashmir Valley have been affected in varied degrees due to the floods in the first week of September, prompting the ruling National Conference to call for delaying the polls in order to focus on relief and rehabilitation.

“Time is not for conduct of elections as people are trying to rebuild their lives which were badly affected by the floods,” National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar told reporters after the meeting the Election Commission, which interacted with representatives of various political parties.

Pradesh Congress Committee Vice President Ghulam Nabi Monga said his party impressed upon the Commission that delay in conducting polls would necessitate imposition of Governor’s rule in the state.

“Governor’s rule is not substitute to the democratic process. Only elected representatives can serve people better…. The human tragedy that befell the state due to floods needs people’s representatives for providing them succour,” Monga said.

PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar said his party reiterated its earlier stand about holding elections in time.

After his meeting the Election Commission at Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre , CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami told, “While focus has to be on relief and rehabilitation of the flood victims, the democratic process should not get affected as it is only the elected representatives who can deliver on this front.”

“We told the Commission that relief and rehabilitation work can go on simultaneously by handing it over to a team of officers from the Centre and the state,” Akhtar added.

Tarigami said the complaints over the response in the aftermath of the disaster made it all the more imperative that polls are held in time.