Decisions on timing of elections can only be made by the Election Commission of India, the commission said today in a hard-hitting statement after media reports quoting Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor GC Murmu that elections in the union territory can be held after the ongoing delimitation exercise.
“It would be proper for authorities other than Election Commission to refrain from making such statements which virtually tantamount to interfering with the Constitutional mandate of the Election Commission,” the commission said.
Many things have to be taken into account for holding the elections, including “topography, weather, sensitivities arising out of regional and local festivities,” the commission said.
Now, the coronavirus outbreak is also another concern, said the agency, which last month announced measures on postal ballots for people above the age of 65 years and withdrew it within days.
Assembly elections in Bihar and a string of by-elections are expected in Madhya Pradesh by the end of this year.
Jammu and Kashmir has not had an elected government since June 2018 when the BJP ended its ruling alliance with Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party.
There was expectation that the state elections will be held along with the national elections in April-May, but the Election Commission had nixed it, citing the security situation.
In August last year, the Centre ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories. Most political leaders were taken into custody at the time. The Centre said it was a preventive measure against backlash.