As­sem­bly polls in 4 states in Sept- Oct

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Ift ikhar Gi­lani @ ift ikhargi­lani

New Delhi: The Congress and the BJP have started pre­par­ing to hit the road af­ter the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion in­di­cated that it will con­duct As­sem­bly elec­tions in four states — Ma­ha­rash­tra, Haryana, Jhark­hand and Jammu and Kash­mir — in late Septem­ber or early Oc­to­ber.

The Com­mis­sion is also pre­pared to hold fresh As­sem­bly elec­tions in Delhi if the cur­rent House, un­der sus­pended an­i­ma­tion, is dis­solved, an EC offi cial said. These elec­tions will be the fi rst ma­jor test of pop­u­lar­ity for the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi- led BJP govern­ment, which se­cured an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity in the re­cently con­cluded Lok Sabha polls. For the Congress, the elec­tions will be an op­por­tu­nity to re­vi­talise de­mor­alised cadre and ar­rest the slide in its for­tunes.

“We have to com­plete the elec­tions in any case by Oc­to­ber 27 when the Haryana As­sem­bly’s term comes to an end. Though the term of the J& K As­sem­bly is till Jan­uary 19, the elec­tions have to be com­pleted by Oc­to­ber be­fore the se­vere win­ter sets in, mak­ing many ar­eas in­ac­ces­si­ble,” an Elec­tion Com­mis­sion offi cial told dna.

The Ma­ha­rash­tra As­sem­bly’s term is till De­cem­ber 7 and that of Jhark­hand till Jan­uary 3. All four As­sem­bly elec­tions will be held to­gether for ad­min­is­tra­tive rea­sons. For se­cu­rity mat­ters, elec­tions will have to be spread over sev­eral phases in Jammu and Kash­mir, and hence polling may kick- off in Septem­ber and go on till the third week of Oc­to­ber, the offi cial added.

Last week, Prime Min­is­ter Modi held a meet­ing of the party’s 10 gen­eral sec­re­taries at his res­i­dence to en­sure the BJP’s or­gan­i­sa­tional strength is not weak­ened in the wake of the mas­sive man­date it re­ceived in the 2014 gen­eral elec­tion. He asked them to pre­pare for as­sem­bly elec­tions in Ma­ha­rash­tra, Haryana and Jhark­hand, where the party has the op­por­tu­nity to un­seat the rul­ing Congress and its part­ners, and also in Jammu and Kash­mir, where the BJP can emerge as a lead player.

Congress Vice- Pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi too held a brain­storm­ing ses­sion last week with Haryana Congress lead­ers.

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