March 2017 News

EC Announces By-poll To 2 Kashmir Seats In 2-phases

8 March 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The Election Commission of India (ECI) will hold by-election to two Lok Sabha seats of Srinagar and Anantnag in two phases before April 10, which will be followed by biennial election to six seats of Legislative Council. The State Election Commission (SEC) will go ahead with preparations for Panchayat polls and hold them after completion of Lok Sabha and Legislative Council elections. Disclosing this to the Excelsior after high-level meeting with the ECI, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shantmanu said the Parliamentary by-polls to Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha seats will be announced in the next couple of days and held in two-phases before April 10. 'We had requested for holding by-election to Srinagar and Lok Sabha seats in two phases keeping in view the militancy-related situation and law and order problem, which would require more deployment of para-military forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police. As the para-military personnel had to be rotated, the ECI agreed for two-phase poll, giving a gap of four to five days between the two seats,' Shantmanu said. He added that the ECI would make a formal announcement of Lok Sabha by-polls in next couple of days and two-phase poll would be completed before April 10 i.e. a week before the deadline of April 17. Excelsior had exclusively reported that if the ECI decided to hold Lok Sabha by-elections before April 17, the State Election Commission (SEC) would defer Panchayat polls. However, if Lok Sabha by-polls were deferred on request of the State Government, the Panchayat elections would be held first. The State Government had urged the ECI to defer Parliamentary by-poll to facilitate early holding of Panchayat elections but the ECI has decided to stick to April 17 deadline for by-poll and asked the State to hold Panchayat elections after them. Shantmanu, who has been designated as the SEC for Panchayat polls by the State Government, said the SEC wouldn't halt Panchayat elections process even after the announcement of by-election to Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha seats in the Kashmir Valley. 'We will complete process of delimitation of Panchayats, put draft electoral rolls in public domain and finalize electoral rolls after inviting objections and claims. This way, the process for Panchayat elections will go on. We will hold Panchayat elections from April end to May end,' the CEO-cum-SEC said. Shantmanu said the Election Commission of India will hold biennial election to six Legislative Council seats after the polling for two Lok Sabha seats is completed. As the six Council seats have to be filled before April 19, the voting for the MLC elections could be held around April 15, he added. The Electoral College for six MLC seats comprised 89 MLAs (87 elected plus two nominated women). Shantmanu said the electoral rolls published on January 10, 2017 after extensive summary revision in the entire State, would be used for polling in by-election to Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha seats. The Election Commission had earlier fixed April 17 deadline for holding by-election to Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha constituencies but the State Government had approached the ECI to defer by-polls as it wanted to hold Panchayat elections first. However, according to sources, the ECI wanted to fill all vacancies in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies before July for holding election for the post of the President of India as Pranab Mukherjee will be completing his term by then. The Members of Parliament and Assemblies comprised Electoral College for election to the post of President. The Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir had completed their five-year term on June 16, 2016 as the State Government failed to hold timely elections to them. While Srinagar Lok Sabha by-poll has to be conducted before April 17, the deadline for Anantnag by-polls, which had once already been deferred, was July 4. As the State Government wanted both elections to be clubbed with gap of three-four days, the ECI had fixed April 17 deadline for both the polls. Anantnag Parliamentary seat had fallen vacant in June, 2016 after Lok Sabha member from this seat, Mehbooba Mufti (now the Chief Minister) was elected to the Legislative Assembly from Anantnag Assembly seat. Srinagar Lok Sabha seat had fallen vacant after former PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra had resigned from the PDP as well as Lok Sabha in protest against what he called 'brutalities' on Kashmir unrest protesters.