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Barring PDP, all parties want early polls: Guv

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Jammu, Jan 16:  Batting for early Assembly elections, Governor Satya Pal Malik has said all political parties, except Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party, want early polls.

The Governor, however, hastened to add that it is the Election Commission of India, which has the mandate to hold the polls and decide the schedule.

“The government has sought opinion from everybody – all political parties and security agencies. We have talked to all. The government cannot decide it, it is for the Election Commission to decide (the poll schedule),” Malik told PTI here in an interview.

The Governor made the remarks in reply to a query if the Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls be held together in view of the security scenario in the state.

“There is a difference of opinion among political parties (on timing of the State Assembly polls). Some want it to be delayed by two months, others by four, while yet others want it to be held as soon as possible,” he said.

Malik said while the State BJP wanted the State Assembly polls to be held along with the Lok Sabha elections, the National Conference wanted it to be held as soon as possible.

“The PDP, however, wants it (Assembly polls) to be delayed,” he added.

The Governor, however, maintained that the ECI would ultimately be deciding the poll schedule, factoring in the requirement and availability of the forces and other conditions.

The Governor, however, personally batted for an early election.

“I want the polls to be held as soon possible, so that I come out of this,” he added.

Like the BJP, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president Gulam Ahmed Mir too favoured the State Assembly polls and the Lok Sabha elections together in the state.

“We want both the polls together and soon. The Congress is ready for the polls. We do not want any delay in the assembly polls at all,” Mir said.

NC vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah last Tuesday said that the Assembly polls should be held “as soon as possible” so that an elected government could be put in place at the earliest to run the affairs of the state.

While favouring an early poll in the State, Governor Malik wished the elections to be violence-free, just like the recent municipal and panchayat polls.

“I pray the Assembly and Parliament polls are held without any casualty and with the largest possible participation of voters,” he said.

‘Intense outreach’ is Governor’ Malik’s new year pledge

Jammu, Jan 16 (PTI) Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has made “intense outreach” his new year’s resolution.

“Of course, it will be a year for reaching out to the people of J&K, particularly youths (of Kashmir). I opened the Raj Bhawan for the people of J&K when I assumed the office of the governor of the state,” Malik was quoted as saying by PTI in an interview with it.

Malik made the remarks in reply to a query on his new year’s resolution.

The Governor said he would intensify his outreach to the people, particularly the youths of the Valley and try to wean them away from the “vicious circle of terrorism and violence”.

“Our aim is not to kill militants. I want not even a single person (militant) be killed. We want them back to the mainstream,” Malik said.

“We want to create such a narrative that people do not get angry and take to guns. We are tightening the administration, so that there is no atrocity or injustice to any innocent person,” the Governor said.

He said the Army, police and paramilitary forces have been given clear directions to exercise restraint during encounters.

The Governor, however, sought to caution people against rushing to the encounter sites and hinder forces’ operations against militants, saying if someone hurls a bomb or fires at the forces, they will be under compulsion to retort.

“It is simple. Goli chalaogey to goli chalegi, koi guldasta to milega nahi (If you fire at someone, you will get back a bullet. You are not going to get a bouquet in return),” Malik said.

Ahead of the two upcoming elections in 2019 – those for the Lok Sabha and the State Assembly, Malik stressed upon the need to reach out to people, suggesting that all leaders should follow suit.

“The political leaders should reach out to the public and tell them that they should not rush to the encounter sites to avoid causalities,” he said.

Dwelling upon his outreach drive, Malik, who took over as the J-K Governor on June 19, 2018, said he has met over 700 delegations and individuals from all three regions of the state – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, besides all religions.

Lauding the Governor’s outreach drive, the Raj Bhawan officials said that many a time visitors visit here after calling up the Governor directly and fixing an appointment with him.

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