Assembly poll elections announced in J&k(17 nov-24dec2008)

NEW DELHI, Oct 19: Overcoming differences within, the Election Commission today announced an unprecedented seven-phase Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir beginning November 17, saying it has taken a “risk” against the backdrop of boycott calls in the Valley.

The three-member Election Commission which was divided on holding polls gave the go ahead thereby signalling an end to the nearly six months of Governor’s rule imposed after the Amarnath land row in July this year.

Announcing the poll schedule, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami said the exercise was being undertaken at a “risk” in view of the stand of certain political parties and outfits.

On whether political parties are ready for polls now, he said “it looks like. First you need to ask if political parties are ready. We are not conducting elections in a vacuum.

“See there were two noes and one in the no/yes category, what I call PO (positive) category. Yes, no and PO and afterward, one no became one yes and so now, we have one PO, one no and one yes. So we have taken a risk.”

 

This was in apparent reference to political parties in Kashmir like PDP which said no to polls at this junction and another major player, National Conference (NC), which gave its nod after having voiced initial reservation.

Keeping harsh winter months in mind, the EC announced polls for Leh and Kargil of Ladakh division alongwith snowbound areas of Gurez, Bandipora and Sonawari in North Kashmir on November 17.

The seven-phase elections will be held on November 17, 23, 30 and December seven, 13, 17 and 24. The counting of votes would take place on December 28 and the election process for the 87-member Assembly has to be completed by December 31 this year, Gopalaswami said.

The Assembly seats of Jammu and Srinagar cities would be going to polls in the last phase to be held on Dec 24.

The notification for the first phase covering ten Assembly constituencies would be issued on October 24 and the last date for filing nominations would be October 31. The scrutiny will take place on November 1 and the last date for withdrawal would be November 3.

The second phase would cover six Assembly segments and the notification would be issued on October 29. The last date for filing nominations would be on November 5 and the scrutiny will take place the following day. The last date for withdrawal would be on November 8.

For the third phase which would cover five constituencies, notification would be issued on November 4, Last date for filing nominations would be November 11 and the scrutiny the following day. The last date for withdrawal would be on November 14.

In the fourth phase in which 18 constituencies would be covered, notification would be issued on November 10. Last date for filing nominations would be on November 17 and scrutiny the following day. Last date for withdrawal would be on November 20.

 

The fifth phase would take care of 11 constituencies. Notification would be issued on November 17. Last date for filing nominations would be November 24 and the scrutiny the following day. The last date for withdrawal would be November 27.

The sixth phase would cover 16 constituencies. Notification would be issued on November 22. Last date for filing nominations would be on November 29 and the scrutiny would be on December 1. Nominations can be withdrawn till December 3.

For the seventh phase in which elections would be held for 21 constituencies, notification would be issued on November 26. Last date for filing nominations would be on December 3 and scrutiny the following day. Last date for withdrawal would be December 6.

Both Congress and BJP welcomed the announcement while the regional parties like NC were guarded in their response.

To a question whether the Commission was apprehensive of low turnout or boycott, Gopalaswami said “we have never said to anybody giving a call for boycott. The EC has never prevented anybody giving a call of his own liking.”

“What we have depended upon is political parties mobilising their voters and ensuring that the election goes on,” he said.

In an apparent reference to a likely poll boycott call to be given by separatists including Hurriyat Conference, the CEC said “…I don’t think anybody can enforce a boycott. They can call a boycott but they cannot enforce a boycott.”

Asked about difference of opinion within three-member Commission, the CEC said “as various issues need to be considered, so each person can take a stand on a particular issue and in a different manner…There are three Election Commissioners and at least there may be three opinions”.

As soon as the EC announced its decision, Congress spokesperson Shakil Ahmed said “the party is fully prepared for the elections and appeals to the people to vote without any fear.”

BJP spokesperson Prakash Jawdekar said “we welcome the decision and this has cleared many apprehensions. We are sure that the decision would prove to be a milestone in democratic history of the country and the State of Jammu and Kashmir in specific.”

Reacting to the EC decision, National Conference Chief Omar Abdullah gave a cautious reaction saying fear was that the polls may see a less turnout but nevertheless the State will see an elected Government. “The present dispensation was not able to address people’s problems,” Omar said.

Another regional party, PDP, herded its leaders into the house of its patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and were busy to formulate the party view.

The reason for an unprecedented seven-phase polls was attributed to availability of Central forces. “…Because we are also having elections elsewhere. So, that is the reason why you would have seen that unlike the last time where there were four phases, this time it is seven,” the CEC said.

Asked about the Commission’s concern about low turnout, Gopalaswami said “you see the turnout was a consideration only with the relevance to the political parties willingness. If political parties are not ready, then nobody is going to canvass.”

Observing that the Commission has prepared contingency plans to supplement the State machinery for conducting the polls, Gopalaswami said about 3,500 Government employees from outside could supplement the State machinery.

“Provided it is necessary, even in 2002, the State staff was supplemented by staff from outside. So as a supplementary measure, we had decided this,” he said.

The State, which has 65,38,111 electors, is currently under the Governor’s rule.

The State Assembly was dissolved following political instability after the PDP withdrew its support to the Congress-led Government in the wake of Amarnath land row. The span of Governor’s rule was to end on January 10, next year.

The CEC said that in view of the recent developments in the State, the Commission had a series of meetings with political parties, Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and senior civil and police officers.

The Centre has assured the Commission that adequate number of contingents of Central police forces would be made available to ensure the safety, security and free movement of electors, candidates, leaders of political parties, polling personnel and guarding of polling materials and polling stations, he said.

The Election Commission has stated that it expects all officials engaged in the conduct of polls to discharge their duties in an impartial manner without any fear and favour, adding further that they shall be deemed to be on deputation to the Commission and shall be subject to its control, supervision and discipline. The officials will be under constant scrutiny of the Commission and strict action will be taken against those who are found wanting on any account.

There are a total of 8,109 polling stations in the State and for facilitating physically-challenged persons, instructions have been issued to ensure that all polling stations are located preferably at ground floor and ramps are also provided. Facilitation shall also be provided for locating the elector’s name against a polling station or a group of polling stations through help-lines and facilitation centres.

Based on the assessment of the ground situation, forces drawn from other States will be deployed during the forthcoming elections. These security personnel will be generally used for safeguarding the polling stations and for providing security to the electors and polling personnel at the polling stations on the polling day. Besides, these forces will be used for securing the strong rooms where the EVMs are stored and at the counting centres.

Pertinent to recall that the poll schedule for J&K was announced following the meeting of the Commission with the representatives of recognized National and State parties on 8th September at New Delhi. Thereafter, the Commission held parleys with State Chief Secretary and Director General of Police as well as the Union Home Secretary to assess the poll preparedness and security situation in the State on 10th September. Earlier this month, another round of meetings was held with the Advisors to the Governor on 7th October which was followed by a meeting of the Commission with the State Chief Secretary and the DGP.

The polls in the State will be conducted at all polling stations using EVMs for which the Commission has already made arrangements to ensure availability for smooth conduct of elections. A two-staged randomization of EVMs will be made. In the first stage, all the EVMs stored in the District Storage Centre will be randomized for allocation Assembly constituency wise. After the EVMs in a constituency are prepared for the poll by the Returning Officer and the ballot units are fitted with the ballot papers, then the EVMs will again be randomized to decide the actual polling stations in which they will be ultimately used. Both the randomization processes will be done in the presence of Observers and Candidates of their election agents.

Besides, the Election Commission has already given instructions that no election-related official or police officer of the rank of Sub Inspector and above shall be allowed to continue in his home district. Besides, instructions have also been issued that all the election-related officials including the police officials, who have completed three years in a district during last four years should be transferred out of the district.

The Election Commission has also instructed the State Government not to associate any officer with the electoral process against whom charges have been framed in a court of law in any case.

For the protection of SC/ST electors, as per Section 3(1) (vii) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled caste or Scheduled Tribe, forces or intimidates a member of SC or ST not to vote or to vote to a particular candidate or to vote in a manner than that provided by law shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine. The Commission has asked the State Government to bring these provisions to the notice of all concerned for prompt action.

The Election Commission has further stated that the poll schedule has been prepared after taking into account all relevant aspects like the climatic conditions, academic schedules, festivals, prevailing law and order situation and availability of Central Police Forces, besides assessment of other ground realities. (Agencies)

Polling schedule

Following is the list of ten Assembly constituencies going to polls in Phase-1.

Assembly Constituency District Region.

1. Gurez Bandipora Kashmir 2. Bandipora Bandipora Kashmir 3. Sonawari Bandipora Kashmir

4. Nobra Leh Ladakh5. Leh Leh Ladakh 6. Kargil Kargil Ladakh 7. Zanskar Kargil Ladakh

8. Surankote Poonch Jammu 9. Mendhar Poonch Jammu 10. Poonch-Haveli Poonch Jammu

Following is the list of six Assembly constituencies going to polls in Phase-2.

Assembly Constituency District Region.

1. Kangan Ganderbal Kashmir2. Ganderbal Ganderbal Kashmir 3. Nowshera Rajouri Jammu

4. Darhal Rajouri Jammu 5. Rajouri Rajouri Jammu 6. Kalakote Rajouri Jammu

Following is the list of five Assembly constituencies going to polls in Phase-3.

Assembly Constituency District Region.

1. Karnah Kupwara Kashmir 2. Kupwara Kupwara Kashmir 3. Lolab Kupwara Kashmir

4. Handwara Kupwara Kashmir 5. Langate Kupwara Kashmir

Following is the list of eighteen Assembly constituencies going to polls in Phase-4.

Assembly Constituency District Region.

1. Uri Baramulla Kashmir 2. Rafiabad Baramulla Kashmir 3. Sopore Baramulla Kashmir

4. Sangrama Baramulla Kashmir 5. Baramulla Baramulla Kashmir 6. Gulmarg Baramulla Kashmir

7. Pattan Baramulla Kashmir 8. Chadoora Budgam Kashmir 9. Budgam Budgam Kashmir

10. Beerwah Budgam Kashmir 11. Khansahib Budgam Kashmir 12. Chrar-i-Sharief Budgam Kashmir

13. Gulabgarh Reasi Jammu 14. Reasi Reasi Jammu 15. Gool Arnas Reasi Jammu

16. Udhampur Udhampur Jammu 17. Chenani Udhampur Jammu 18. Ramnagar Udhampur Jammu

Following is the list of eleven Assembly constituencies going to polls in Phase-5.

Assembly Constituency District Region.

1. Tral Pulwama Kashmir 2. Pampore Pulwama Kashmir 3. Pulwama Pulwama Kashmir

4. Rajpora Pulwama Kashmir 5. Wachi Shopian Kashmir 6. Shopian Shopian Kashmir

7. Bani Kathua Jammu 8. Basohli Kathua Jammu 9. Kathua Kathua Jammu

10. Billawar Kathua Jammu 11. Hiranagar Kathua Jammu

Following is the list of sixteen Assembly constituencies going to polls in Phase-6.

Assembly Constituency District Region.

1. Noorabad Kulgam Kashmir 2. Kulgam Kulgam Kashmir 3. Home-shalibugh Kulgam Kashmir

4. Anantnag Anantnag Kashmir 5. Devsar Kulgam Kashmir 6. Dooru Anantnag Kashmir

7. Kokernag Anantnag Kashmir 8. Shangus Anantnag Kashmir 9. Bijbehara Anantnag Kashmir

10. Pahalgam Anantnag Kashmir 11. Kishtwar Kishtwar Jammu 12. Inderwal Kishtwar Jammu

13. Doda Doda Jammu 14. Bhaderwah Doda Jammu 15. Ramban Ramban Jammu

16. Banihal Ramban Jammu

Following is the list of twenty-one Assembly constituencies going to polls in Phase-7.

Assembly Constituency District Region.

1. Hazratbal Srinagar Kashmir 2. Zadibal Srinagar Kashmir 3. Idgah Srinagar Kashmir

4. Khanyar Srinagar Kashmir 5. Habbakadal Srinagar Kashmir 6. Amirakadal Srinagar Kashmir

7. Sonawar Srinagar Kashmir 8. Batamaloo Srinagar Kashmir 9. Samba Samba Jammu

10. Vijaypur Samba Jammu 11. Nagrota Jammu Jammu 12. Gandhinagar Jammu Jammu

13. Jammu East Jammu Jammu 14. Jammu West Jammu Jammu 15. Bishnah Jammu Jammu

16. R S Pura Jammu Jammu 17. Suchetgarh Jammu Jammu 18. Marh Jammu Jammu

19. Raipur Domana Jammu Jammu 20. Akhnoor Jammu Jammu 21. Chhamb Jammu Jammu (PTI)

Advertisements

One Comment

  1. kashmirihindu
    Posted October 24, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This is wise decision by govt of india as it is an integral part of india.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: