Elections likely to be held in Jammu and Kashmir early next year

Srinagar, June 10: Union Government is keen to held assembly polls early next year in Jammu and Kashmir and conveyed it’s plans to political parties in J&K.

Top sources said that the delimitation Commission would complete its mandate of redrawing constituencies much earlier before their term ends in March next year.

The Centre has given a one-year extension to the Delimitation Commission, set up in March last year to redraw the electoral constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh.

The notification issued in March had extended the term of the delimitation commission by one year and the panel would look only into the delimitation of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had come into existence in October 2019 after the Centre abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state in August that year and announced its reorganisation.

Before Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act in August 2019, the effective strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was 87, including four seats from Ladakh, which is now a separate Union Territory without a legislature. The strength of the realigned Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is 107 now with 24 seats to continue to remain vacant as that fall in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PaK).

The five MPs from the Jammu and Kashmir as ex-officio members have been boycotted by the National Conference (NC) that has three representatives in the panel.

However sources said that National Conference may now revisit its decision and likely be part of delimitation Commission Proceedings.

A Top political leader said that in March they were earlier told by GOI to start their political activities as assembly elections will be held by end of this year.

“However the Covid Wave disturbed everything and the plan of holding elections by the end of the year was deferred.,” he said. “Now recently we were advised to start political activities. If there will be no third Covid wave in J&K as is being predicted across the country, then Delhi Government told us that elections can happen in November or December also.”

A top J&K based political leader said that the the meeting by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi some days before was called in to discuss the holding of elections. The Lieutenant Governor (LG) Sinha, outgoing J&K chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, his successor Arun Mehta, Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Arvind Kumar, J&K Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh and Special DG J&K Police CID were part of the meeting. Earlier Amit Shah had called a meeting with Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.

Political commentators also say that yesterdays meeting by PAGD was called in the backdrop of green signal by Central Government to local political parties to prepare for elections.

Meanwhile J&K Chief Election Commissioner K K Sharma who was earlier Advisor to Lietuanant Governer continues to hold the post even after six months of holding DDC elections.

“He may have been asked to continue as CEC in view of assembly elections,” a source said.

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