21 Jul 2022

Jammu and Kashmir polls this year? The odds against it, officials say

Jammu and Kashmir polls this year? The odds against it, officials say
Due to 'Chillai Kalan', elections cannot be held before the thaw next year, officials said.

The much-anticipated parliamentary elections in Jammu and Kashmir, due by the end of this year, may face gridlock, officials in the Union Home Ministry said after the minister told Parliament that a revision of electoral rolls must be completed first. . This is because the revision of the lists will inevitably be followed by political wrangling and a solution cannot be expected before the start of winter. Due to the freezing 'Chillai Kalan' - 40 days of intense cold - in Kashmir, elections cannot be held earlier. melting next year, officials said.
On Sunday, Union Minister Rajnath Singh gave the first indication of the timetable for assembly in Jammu and Kashmir since it became a Union Territory in August 2019. There is a "high possibility" of the election process starting "by this year - the end," Mr Singh said.

Earlier today, junior home minister Nityanand Rai told the Rajya Sabha, “The government has constituted a delimitation commission which has notified orders on 14 March 2022 and 5 May 2022 to delimit the parliamentary and parliamentary constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir. The Electoral Commission has started the revision of electoral rolls".

The decision to call elections is the election commission's prerogative, he added.

The Electoral Commission has given time until October 31 to publish the electoral lists. But once the registers are published, "political parties will naturally challenge the claims, so it will take some time and then one will move into the winter months," said a Home Office official.

On the law and order front, recent targeted killings of civilians and ISIS claiming responsibility are a new challenge, officials said.

The security situation was a key obstacle to the 2019 parliamentary elections.

After the J&K administration expressed its concern over the fact, the Election Commission refused to include the parliamentary polls in the general elections, dashing hopes of an elected government in the erstwhile state, which had been under President's rule since June 2018.

This time also the issue of nomination of PoJK (Pak-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir) refugee members needs to be resolved.

The Delimitation Commission has recommended nominations for refugees from PoJK (Pak-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir) but has not given any number.

The commission also recommended that two Kashmiri migrants - one of them a woman - could be nominated to the legislature with voting rights.

Officials said the issue could eventually be resolved in Parliament in the form of a law or an executive order in the ongoing monsoon session.

"There have been many rounds of discussions within the government on this issue," said a senior government official. "Most probably three or four nominations could be given to displaced persons from PoJK on the basis that 24 constituencies were reserved for them in the assembly and almost one-third of the population migrated here in 1947," he added.

Meanwhile, efforts are being made to keep the electoral machinery in shape.

The first stage inspection of electronic voting machines and VVPATs is scheduled to take place later this month. “It is a workshop where EVMs are checked and officers on the ground are familiarized with their working,” said a home ministry official.

Deputy Commissioners of all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley and a team from the Election Commission of India will participate in the workshop.

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