The recent visit of three Election Commission-appointed special observers to Jammu and Kashmir has once again kindled the hope of assembly elections being held in the summers itself. In fact it was speculated that the Parliamentary and Assembly elections would be conducted simultaneously. Even most of the political parties were in sync with the idea except the Kashmir Valley leaders who as usual expressed apprehensions on the conduct of simultaneous polls in the state. Security remained the main cause for the smooth conduct of simultaneous election as most of the paramilitary and police force is deployed for the parliamentary polls. There has been demand for providing security for the protection of all candidates however it has remained a major constraint. The observers team has been deployed to reassess the security situation in J&K after it drew flak over its decision to hold only the parliamentary elections as of now. The first round of the Lok Sabha election in Jammu and Baramulla constituencies witnessed largely peaceful polling on April 11. Though Kupwara had few incidents of clashes after security personnel were attacked by local residents soon after polling ended. These seats recorded an overall turnout of about 57 per cent, matching the figure in the 2014 General Election. The turnout was 72 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, in Jammu and Baramulla. Jammu and Kashmir has been under President’s rule since June last year after the fragile alliance between the BJP and the PDP ended on an acrimonious note. Once a government takes charge and stability is restored in the echelons of power, the focus would hopefully shift to development and good governance. The onus is on the Election Commission to take security and other factors into consideration and take a call in the best interests of Jammu and Kashmir for conducting the early assembly elections.
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