Waiting For Polls

WITH the ongoing revision of electoral rolls paving the way for holding of the elections  later this year, political parties in the Valley are tentatively engaging in some political activity. In the recent past, the National Conference held a workers convention at Sanat Nagar which was addressed by the party’s working president Omar Abdullah. Abdullah told the workers that the NC doesn’t look for solutions to the problems in Jammu and Kashmir outside the ambit of the country’s Constitution. Another convention was held by the party at Amira Kadal. The PDP’s activities are still low-key, so are that of the People’s Conference and Apni Party. But the political activities are certain to pick up as the bugle of election is sounded. The Election Commission of India has set a deadline of October for the completion of the revision of electoral rolls. A few days ago, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Manoj Sinha said the first-ever Assembly polls in the Union Territory would be held after the ongoing revision of electoral rolls and statehood would be restored at an appropriate time after the election.

Before LG Sinha, the prime minister Narendra Modi and the home minister Amit Shah have given us the same sequence of steps to restore statehood. If we go by this sequence, the completion of the delimitation exercise would lead to the holding of the elections within the union territory framework. And statehood would be a third step in the process.   However, as made clear by the LG, statehood would only be granted at an appropriate time. This means there is no guarantee that statehood would be the next logical step. Or whether the statehood to be granted would be full or a truncated one – one that resembles a Delhi-type arrangement where the real power remains vested with the governor. Such an arrangement would hardly be enough to make a redeeming difference to the existing state of affairs in J&K, as fundamentally there wouldn’t be much that would change on the ground.

As for the election, the completion of the electoral rolls by October would push the exercise to November-December. The winter, however,  won’t be the right time to hold the election in Kashmir Valley. Nevertheless, many people would most likely prefer the elections to take place regardless of the season. If for no other reason than at least for approachability, there is a palpable desire to see local politicians return to government. As of now, nothing is certain. However, the coming weeks and months should make things clear.

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