Lok Sabha polls: ECI apprehensive about holding polls for 3 Kashmir seats

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By KNO on 20/02/2019.

Lok Sabha polls: ECI apprehensive about holding polls for 3 Kashmir seats

May go ahead with Jammu, Ladakh; Final announcement soon, security situation in Valley cited as reason for delay

Srinagar, February 20: As the security situation in Kashmir worsens after deadly Lethpora suicide attack on a CRPF the Election Commission of India is seriously mulling to go for parliamentary elections in Jammu and Ladakh region along with the general Lok Sabha elections in India while three parliamentary seats of Kashmir won’t witness polls and would be merged with the elections for Assembly seats.

Reliable sources told KNO that the after taking feedback from security and other top officials of the administration in the State, the ECI has agreed in principle to go for simultaneous Lok Sabha polls in the country along with Jammu and Ladakh region but not in Kashmir that has three Lok Sabha seats.

“Because of the security atmosphere, it is not feasible to hold elections in Kashmir for three Lok Sabha seats. The plan is to club parliamentary seats of Kashmir with the Assembly elections,” a top official revealed to KNO, wishing not to be named.

He said that in Kashmir of late, the security scenario has worsened in the wake of deadliest ever fidayeen attack on the CRPF convoy that resulted in the killing of 40 CRPF men and injuries to some two dozen paramilitary troopers.

In Jammu there are two Parliamentary seats Jammu- Samba and Udhampur-Doda while Ladakh has one. Kashmir has three seats—Srinagar-Budgam, Baramulla-Kupwara and Anantnag-Kulgam. In 2014 elections, BJP had won three seats, two in Jammu and one in Ladakh while PDP had bagged all three seats of Kashmir.

However, when PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti took over the reins of the State as the chief minister after her father’s death, the Anantnag-Kulgam parliamentary seat fell vacant and didn’t witness elections due to the “highest level of security concerns vis-à-vis rising number of local militants.”

A source revealed to KNO that in the recent review by ECI where in top security officials from the State participated in New Delhi, it was decided in principle that elections for three Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir will be put on hold and held along with the Assembly polls later.

“There are genuine security concerns as far as holding parliamentary elections in Kashmir is concerned. So the plan is to hold polls for Jammu and Ladakh Lok Sabha seats along with the country-wide polls,” he said. However, the final announcement about the decision would be made by the ECI after some time.

At present the J&K State is under president’s rule as the Governor S P Malik ended after six-month stint. The State plunged into the Governor’s rule after the BJP withdrew the support from the PDP. Elections in the State are due this year.