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Polls: EC in JK to take stock

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
October 07, 2008 21:27 IST
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The Election Commission of India, led by the Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalswami, arrived in Srinagar Tuesday on a two-day visit for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in the state.

The stock-taking visit by the EC which entails meeting with political parties and senior state government officers will be crucial in determining the commission's decision whether or not to hold the Assembly polls in the state in November.

The assembly polls as per schedule were due this month which could not, however, be held because of continued turmoil in the state triggered by Amarnath land row in June this year.

The entire political spectrum of the state have been waiting with bated breath ever since the EC held first round of talks with the leaders of various political parties and state and central government officers in New Delhi in August last.

The separatists have already called for a poll boycott in the valley.

While the mainstream National Conference (NC) is rooting for early polls, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) pushes for deferment of polls to next year on the argument that the situation in the valley is not conducive for elections.

Similarly, the Jammu-centric BJP is ready for polls as it assesses itself to be in a comfortable position politically following the 63-day-long Amarnath land row agitation.

The Congress is maintaining a diplomatic stance by saying that it is ready for polls, whenever they are called by the EC, though it will also prefer postponement of the elections to get its act together and bounce back on the political scene.

The party had the largest number of MLAs from the Jammu region in the last polls.

Some smaller parties are also pushing for postponement of the polls.

"Holding elections now may throw up a low turnout which could be an embarrassment and create problems of its own," said a senior PDP leader.

State governor N.N.Vohra has made no secret of his inclination of holding the elections early so that the baton of governance is passed on to an elected government in the state and bridges with people which have suffered a huge damage could be re-established.

The governor's rule imposed on July 9 is expiring on January 10 next year.

The EC is expected to take a final decision in a few days.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar