Batting for early assembly elections, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has said all political parties, except Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party, want early polls. The governor, however, hastened to add that it is the Election Commission of India, which has the mandate to hold the polls and decide the schedule.
"The government has sought an opinion from everybody - all political parties and security agencies. We have talked to all. The government cannot decide it, it is for the Election Commission to decide (the poll schedule)," Malik told PTI here in an interview. The governor made the remarks in reply to a query if the Lok Sabha and state assembly polls be held together in view of the security scenario in the state.
"There is a difference of opinion among political parties (on the timing of the state assembly polls). Some want it to be delayed by two months, others by four, while yet others want it to be held as soon as possible," he said. Malik said while the state BJP wanted the state assembly polls to be held along with the Lok Sabha elections, the National Conference wanted it to be held as soon as possible. "The PDP, however, wants it (assembly polls) to be delayed," he added.
The governor, however, maintained that the ECI would ultimately be deciding the poll schedule, factoring in the requirement and availability of the forces and other conditions. The governor, however, personally batted for an early election. "I want the polls to be held as soon possible so that I come out of this," he added. Like the BJP, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee President Gulam Ahmed Mir too favoured the state assembly polls and the Lok Sabha elections together in the state.
"We want both the polls together and soon. The Congress is ready for the polls. We do not want any delay in the assembly polls at all," Mir said. NC vice president and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah last Tuesday said that the assembly polls should be held "as soon as possible" so that an elected government could be put in place at the earliest to run the affairs of the state. While favouring an early poll in the state, Governor Malik wished the elections to be violence-free, just like the recent municipal and panchayat polls. "I pray the assembly and Parliament polls are held without any casualty and with the largest possible participation of voters," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)