The Election Commission on Tuesday rebuked Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu for his remarks hinting at the possibility of elections in the Union Territory after the delimitation exercise was done.

The poll panel noted Murmu’s interview with The Tribune, published on Tuesday, titled “J&K polls after delimitation: L-G”, in which the lieutenant governor told the newspaper: “The Election Commission of India has appointed members [of the Delimitation Commission] and also co-opted members. There will be the Census 2021. I don’t know what view they will take.”

The electoral body strongly objected to Murmu’s statements and said the election process was under its purview. “[The] Election Commission takes exception to such statements and would like to state that in the Constitutional scheme of things, the timings etc. of elections is the sole remit of Election Commission of India,” the statement read.

The poll panel noted several factors, including topography and weather that are taken into consideration before deciding the timeline of the elections. “For example, in the current times, Covid 19 has introduced a new dynamic, which has to be and shall be taken into consideration at the due time,” the statement said. “In the instant case, the outcome of Delimitation is also germane to the decision.”

The commission added that it schedules a visit to the specific region where the elections are to be held and conducts thorough consultations with the authorities. “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 Election Commission,” the statement further noted.

Jammu and Kashmir has not had an elected administration since June 2018, when the Bharatiya Janata Party ended its alliance with former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party. In August, the central government had revoked the special status of the erstwhile state and split the region into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Meanwhile, on Monday, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said that he will not contest Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir as long as the region remains a Union Territory. Several politicians, including former National Conference party chief Farooq Abdullah, have questioned the Centre’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

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