J&K Assembly Elections In Nov-Dec, EC Initiates Process

23 May 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The Election Commission has set off the process to hold Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir in November-December this year as new Assembly of the State has to be constituted before January 19, 2015. The Commission was unlikely to go for summary revision of electoral rolls due to paucity of time but would continue to update the electoral rolls to facilitate young and new voters to exercise their right to franchise in the elections. Though a formal decision was awaited, the Election Commission would like to complete the electoral process by the middle of December when most of the hilly areas in Jammu and Kashmir start experiencing snowfall while the plains have chilly weather conditions. As conduct of elections was likely to take at least one and a half months as they had to be held in five to six phases due to security considerations, the elections could start by the end of October or start of November. 'We have set the process to hold elections to the new Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir in motion. The preparations have started well in advance. However, a decision on summary revision of electoral rolls would be taken by the Election Commission for all five States jointly including Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh, which were going to elections later this year or early next year,' Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umang Narula told the Excelsior. He said since the present Assembly had held its first sitting on January 20, 2009 the new Assembly has to be constituted before January 19, 2015. As constitution of the new Assembly takes about a week after completion of counting, the Election Commission would like the election process in Jammu and Kashmir to be completed before the first week of January. Going by the deadline, the elections can even start in middle of November and completed by the end of December but, according to sources, the Election Commission would keep weather conditions of the State in mind before taking a final decision on dates of the elections. 'Most likely, the elections could start in last week of October or first week of November and end by the middle of December. An announcement for the elections could be made by the end of August or start of September,' sources said, adding that Model Code of Conduct (MCC) would come into force as soon as the election date is announced. Narula said they had to keep Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which were used in just concluded Parliamentary elections for voting intact for at least 45 days under the rules as any candidate can file election petition in that time period. After 45 days, the EVMs would be readied for Assembly elections. 'We would also examine as to how many more EVMs were required for Assembly elections as number of polling booths could go up,' he added. The CEO said the continuous updation of electoral rolls would continue if the Election Commission didn't order summary revision of electoral rolls. He disclosed that the Commission has added 1.92 lakh new votes since January 31, 2014 i.e. after the completion of summary revision in the State. As many as 8.7 lakh new voters have been added during past two years, he added. Sources said the summary revision of electoral rolls required at least three to four months as it had fixed time schedule for additions, deletions, inviting objections and publication of draft and final rolls etc, which was virtually impossible in view of very short time left for the Assembly elections. Moreover, they added, the summary revision was completed in January this year after it was started in the month of October last. However, the new voters can get themselves enrolled through continuous updation of electoral rolls. Further, the Election Commission can intensify updation of electoral rolls giving chance to all voters, who want to enroll themselves for the Assembly elections. On the use of provision of NOTA (None of the Above) for the Assembly elections, Narula said they had directions of the Election Commission for use of NOTA for the Parliament elections and they would await directions for the Assembly elections and act accordingly. The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has 87 Assembly seats including 46 in the Kashmir Valley, 37 in Jammu region and four in Ladakh.