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Will initiate process of holding assembly polls in JK very soon: CEC Kumar

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New Delhi: Encouraged by the voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir in the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission will “very soon” initiate the process of holding assembly polls in the Union Territory, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said on Saturday.

He also told PTI Videos that the people of Jammu and Kashmir deserve their government.

Responding to a question on the turnout in various seats of Jammu and Kashmir and if assembly elections could be held soon, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kumar said the poll panel is very encouraged by people’s participation in the parliamentary polls.

“It’s music to (my) ears. People — youth, women — are happily turning out in large numbers (to vote). The roots of democracy are being further strengthened, people are participating,” he said.

“They deserve their government. We will initiate that process very soon … very encouraged to do this,” the CEC added.

While announcing the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections in March, Kumar said holding assembly and parliamentary elections simultaneously was not practical due to logistical and security reasons.

Whenever assembly elections are held in Jammu and Kashmir, they will be the first since the August 2019 abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and the division of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

The electoral exercise in Jammu and Kashmir is usually spread over a month.

Following a delimitation exercise, the number of assembly seats has gone up from 83 to 90, excluding those allocated to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

In December, the Supreme Court directed the poll panel to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir by September 30.

Kumar said it is some people’s job to create doubts and asserted the systems in place at the Election Commission are strong to ensure no mistakes creep in.

He was responding to a question on doubts being cast on the turnout of voters in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

“It is the job of some people to create doubts. Our system is strong, not from today, it has been there for the past 70-72 years,” he told PTI Videos.

His remarks come on a day when the poll panel on its own came out with Lok Sabha constituency-wise data on the number of votes cast in the first five phases of the elections.

The turnout figures came a day after the Supreme Court refused to issue directions to the Election Commission on an NGO’s plea for uploading polling booth-wise voter turnout data on its website.

The EC said that it has decided to further expand the format of turnout data to include the absolute number of voters in every parliamentary constituency.

The CEC said that the matter was in the Supreme Court and it has delivered its verdict which is before everyone.

“All I can say is that there is no mistake in this, nor can there be any mistake,” Kumar said.

“But why did these doubts arise, how were they created, and how much negative impact it has on our voting and the atmosphere, how our entire energy is diverted, we will definitely tell this to the country one day,” he added.

While the EC had been issuing turnout percentage, there had been demands to make the actual number of voters in every phase public.

The top court refused a plea on Friday to direct the EC to upload Form 17C — which records votes polled per polling station — on its website.


Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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