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JK polls: EC team gets mixed responses

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
October 08, 2008 21:12 IST
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Leaders of various political parties, who met the Election Commission today, offered mixed responses from definitive to ambivalent to the question of holding election to the 87-member state Assembly next month.


The Election Commission (EC) of India, led by the Chief Election Commissioner, N Gopalaswami, on a two-day visit for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation rounded off their stock taking visit with a marathon meeting with the entire mainstream political spectrum of the state.


The EC also held separate meeting with state governor N N Vohra, his three advisors and the top civil and police officers here to have their assessment of the situation in the state.


While the National Conference (NC) obliquely opposed the holding of elections next month by taking the position that "more than the  conduct of polls it was people's participation that mattered the most" the People's Democratic Party (PDP) was categorical in opposing the polls.


"The situation is not conducive, and it is not a question of holding elections, the question is of building confidence among the people," PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said after the meeting.


"Trade between the two divided parts of Kashmir is just starting and this confidence building measure should be given some time to register in the hearts and minds of people here," she said.


NC president Umar Abdullah said, "It is not a question of whether my party participates in the elections or not, the real question is whether people participate in those polls."


Umar said, "The situation in the last two months has shown slight improvement, but much more needs to be done. We hope the prime minister during his visit to the state makes some announcement which will help lower the anger of people."


National Panthers Party president Prof. Bhim Singh, however, demanded holding of immediate polls in the state saying, "Bureaucratic rule is no substitution for a political dispensation".


CPI(M) state general secretary Yusuf Tarigami asked for a "general amnesty to release all prisoners before polls and repeal of the laws which have been misused here".


"Election is a process from which the CPI(M) does not shy away, but holding them right now is not the right time."


The Congress continued with its ambivalent stance that it would go by the decision of the EC.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar