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J&K: ECI team to meet political parties, admin ahead of LS polls

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Srinagar, March 12

A team of the Election Commission of India (ECI) headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar will start discussions and meetings with political parties and the administration in J&K on Tuesday ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The 9-member team of the ECI headed by the CEC reached here on Monday for a 2-day visit.

Among the political parties, whose representatives will meet the ECI team, the National Conference (NC), Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have said that they will demand that the assembly polls be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in J&K.

The BJP has said the party will leave the decision for the ECI to take.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided not to meet the ECI team claiming that the party leaders have not been provided security.

The 5-member constitutional bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Justice D.Y. Chandrachud while upholding the Parliament’s right to abrogate Article 370 had instructed the Central government to hold the assembly elections in J&K by September 30, 2024.

The team ECI will also meet the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police (DGP), ADGPs, and the two divisional commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir divisions in addition to all the district development commissioners and the SSPs of the 20 districts to get a firsthand assessment of the ground situation.

While reviewing the overall preparations for the Lok Sabha polls, the ECI team will also make an on-the-spot assessment on whether or not the assembly elections can be held together with the Lok Sabha polls in J&K.

There are only five Lok Sabha seats in J&K while there are 90 seats in the legislative assembly of the UT. This number rose from the previous 87 to 90 after the Delimitation Commission allotted 47 seats to the Valley and 43 seats to the Jammu region while deleting 4 seats belonging to the Ladakh region, which is a separate UT now.

The ECI team will visit the Jammu division on Wednesday and return to Delhi the same day.

The ECI team include two senior Deputy Election Commissioners, Dharmendra Sharma and Nitesh Vyas, Deputy Election Commissioners, Hirdesh Kumar and Manoj Kumar Sahoo, Director General, B. Narayanan, directors including Shubra Saxena, Pankaj Shrivastava and Deepali Masirkar and the Secretary of the Commission, B.C. Patra.

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