State Times News Jammu: Representatives of various political parties met the three-member team of special observers, appointed by the Election Commission (EC), here on Friday and reiterated the demand for holding Assembly elections and Lok Sabha polls simultaneously in Jammu and Kashmir. The three observers — Noor Mohammad, Vinod Zutshi and A S Gill, appointed to suggest when Assembly elections can be held in the northern state, reached Jammu from Srinagar on the second leg of their visit. “Representatives of different political parties met the observers separately and discussed the timing of the Assembly elections,” an official said. He said the special observers will be holding a meeting with the district development commissioners and senior superintendents of police later in the day to get their feedback. “We sought a review of the Election Commission’s decision to defer the Assembly elections as all parties in the state are on the same page for simultaneous polls to provide an opportunity to the people to elect their own government,” state Congress vice president and former minister Raman Bhalla said after meeting the observers. He said the EC had conducted the panchayat and urban local bodies elections last year despite some parties boycotting them. “Today when everyone is demanding simultaneous polls, there is no justification for delaying the state polls,” Bhalla said. BJP State General Secretary Narinder Singh said his party favoured simultaneous polls and had conveyed its decision to the special observers. “The Amarnath Yatra, Budha Amarnath Yatra, Eid and movement of nomads will take place in the coming months and therefore the EC should take a call in a way which ensures maximum participation of people in the exercise,” he said. The special observers also met a delegation of the National Panthers Party, the officials said. The three-member team arrived in Srinagar on a two-day visit on Thursday to assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir on realtime basis to enable the EC to take a call on holding the state Assembly elections. While announcing the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday, the poll panel had said the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir cannot be held simultaneously due to security concerns flagged by the Centre. The National Conference and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) did not meet the observers, saying they had nothing more to add to the demand for simultaneous polls. Jammu and Kashmir has been under President’s rule since December 19, 2018, which was necessitated after six months of Governor’s rule ended in the state. The Governor’s rule was imposed after the PDP-BJP government in the state fell on June 19, 2018, following the national party’s withdrawal from the coalition. Since the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has been dissolved, the EC is bound to hold fresh polls in the state within a six-month period, which will end in May.
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