MHA briefs EC about LS, Assembly polls
New Delhi, Feb 18: A high-level team of the Ministry of Home Affairs, led by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, on Monday briefed the Election Commission about the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of Pulwama suicide attack, officials said.
The meeting was held to help the Election Commission (EC) in taking a decision on holding Lok Sabha elections as well as the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, which is currently under President's rule, they said.
During the hour-long meeting, the MHA team apprised the EC about the ground realities in the state, strength of central forces currently deployed and the additional forces which could be made available for election duties, a government official said.
The EC will have to take a decision on whether to hold Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously or conduct the Assembly polls later in the year based on the assessment provided by the MHA.
The MHA team also apprised the EC about the internal security situation in the country and the central forces it could make available for polling duties across the country, another official said.
The EC is expected to announce the schedule for Lok Sabha elections in the first fortnight of March. Assembly polls are expected to be held with Lok Sabha elections simultaneously in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
A senior security officer, who is familiar with the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, said the Assembly polls in the state should be held simultaneously as such decisions cannot be held ransom to one incident or a couple of incidents.
Besides, the same number of forces will be required if Lok Sabha and Assembly polls are held simultaneously.
Some additional security personnel will be required only for giving protection of candidates, the official said, requesting anonymity.
The Governor's rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir on June 19, 2018 after the state plunged into a political crisis when the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition government was reduced to minority following withdrawal of support by the 25-member BJP in the state. The Assembly had been kept under the suspended animation then.
However, the Governor on November 21 dissolved the 87-member State Assembly after the PDP, supported by the Congress and arch rivals National Conference, tried to stake claim to form the government.
He had cited "extensive horse-trading", the "impossibility" of forming a stable government by coming together of political parties with "opposing political ideologies" and "serious doubts about the longevity of any such arrangement where there are competing claims of majority" as the reasons behind the decision.
When the Governor's rule expired on December 19, 2018, President's rule was imposed in the state as under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no provision for extension of Governor's rule.