Saturday, 25 October 2014

EC announces five-phase polls in J&K and Jharkhand from November 25; counting on December 23

NEW DELHI: Brushing aside reservations of ruling National Conference, the Election Commission today decided to go ahead with holding Assembly polls in flood-devastated Jammu and Kashmir and announced a five-phased schedule between November 23 and December 20.

Polling will take place on November 25, December 2, 9, 14 and 20, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said at a press conference here.

Counting of votes will take place on December 23, he said. With the announcement of elections, the Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately.

The current six-year term of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly ends on January 19.

National Conference had expressed reservations to holding of polls at present because of the devastation caused by floods last month.

Asked whether it was the right decision to hold polls in Jammu and Kashmir in view widespread destruction caused by floods, Sampath said the calamity will have no "special impact" on polls.

He said post-flood situation, along with other aspects like climate, festivals and law and order situation, have been taken into account while deciding the poll schedule.

"Except for one political party, most of the political parties (in Jammu and Kashmir) were in favour of holding elections on time. They said there is no reason, no justification for delaying the polls. The EC's mandate is to hold elections on time," he said.

"The Commission has made two-stage verification before announcing the poll schedule. In the first phase, the Commission had sent its senior officials who held elaborate discussion with the stake holders.

"This was followed by a visit by full Commission which held talks with political parties and all stake holders. Barring one political party, all others favoured holding of elections on time and also made it clear that there was no justification for delaying the polls," he said.

Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has 87 seats and Jharkhand has 81 seats. In Jammu and Kashmir, seven seats are reserved for SCs while in Jharkhand, nine seats are reserved for SCs and STs, respectively.

Number of electors in Jammu and Kashmir as per electoral rolls is 72.25 lakhs and 207.44 lakhs in Jharkahnd, the CEC said.

Altogether 10,015 polling stations will be set up in Jammu and Kashmir and 24,648 in Jharkahnd.

To facilitate the voters to know where he/she is enrolled as a voter at a particular polling station and what is his/her serial number in the electoral roll, the Commission has directed that voter slip along with Photo (wherever present in the roll) will be distributed to all enrolled voters by the District Election Officer.

It has also been directed that the said voter slip should be in the languages in which electoral roll is published for that Assembly Constituency, Sampath said.

Voters can also exercise the None of The Above (NOTA) option.

"The Commission is taking steps to bring this to the knowledge of voters and all other stakeholders and to train all field level officials including the polling personnel about the NOTA option," a Commission statement said.