Srinagar- The election machinery is gearing up for the conduct of assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir as the first-level checking (FLC) of EVMs and VVPATs will be held at a workshop here later this month, officials said on Sunday.
They said deputy commissioners of all ten districts of the Valley and a team of the Election Commission of India (ECI) will participate in the workshop.
“The preparations for the assembly elections are underway. However, the final dates for the conduct of the polls will be decided by the ECI,” an official said.
Jammu and Kashmir has been without an assembly since November 2018 when the then legislative assembly was dissolved by then governor Satya Pal Malik after the PDP-BJP coalition government fell apart earlier that year.
The Centre as well as the Lieutenant Governor administration here have been saying that the assembly elections in the UT would be conducted after the process of delimitation and electoral revision is completed.
The delimitation of constituencies was completed earlier this year and the Election Commission began the process of electoral rolls revision in the union territory last month — an exercise taking place after a gap of three years and for the first time since the abrogation of J-K’s special status in August 2019.
The officials said there are indications that polls could be held in the UT after the electoral rolls revision is completed.
They said the preparations for the polls were in full swing.
The delimitation has been completed. The electoral rolls revision is on and is likely to be completed soon. The EC has set October 31 as the final date for publication of the revised electoral rolls, the official said.
The process of rationalisation of polling stations was also going on and is likely to be completed by the end of this month.
Some of the deputy commissioners who are designated as district election officers have released list of draft polling stations after rationalisation, while others are in the process of doing so, the official said.
The rationalisation of polling stations was necessitated because of the creation of seven new assembly constituencies as well as change in boundaries of many constituencies following fresh delimitation.
The officials said the district election officers have been holding meetings with the representatives of political parties in every district.
Discussions have taken place with these representatives of political parties on the post-delimitation exercises, including rationalisation of polling stations, list of draft polling stations after formation of new constituencies, addition and deletion of voters in the list, they said.
After this process is completed, the officials said, the booth-level officers (BLOs) would be trained and sensitised regarding the post-delimitation exercise.
Meanwhile, a workshop on first-level checking (FLC) of EVMs and VVPATs will be held at SKICC here on July 27, in which the district election officers and deputy district election officers of all the 10 districts of the valley will be participating.
A team of officers from the Election Commission of India, including Director EVMs, S Sunder Rajan, Secretary Madhusudan Gupta and Under Secretary 0 P Sahani, besides, representatives from Electronics Corporation of India Ltd, including Deputy General Manager P C Mandal, Technical Officer C V Dinesh Datta and Officer C Venkanna, are also participating in the workshop, the officials said.
The preparations for the polls also come amid statements by the Centre as well as the UT administration on the conduct of the polls.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on June 17 had said there is a possibility of holding the polls by this year-end.
Earlier this month, J-K LG Manoj Sinha said the elections will surely take place after the completion of the electoral roll revision.
The prime minister and the country’s home minister have said it many times in Parliament that elections (in Jammu and Kashmir) will take place. The process of delimitation in the union territory has been completed and the electoral roll revision started. After this, there will surely be elections, Sinha had said at a function here.
Political parties in the union territory have also been demanding early assembly elections. While some of them have started preparations for the polls, the regional forces — the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — have been saying the preparations will start once the elections are announced.
However, both the parties have shown interest in contesting the polls together as part of the People’s Allaince for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) formed in October 2020.
The PAGD, comprising five J-K parties — NC, PDP, CPI(M), CPI and ANC — was formed with a stated aim of restoring Article 370 which was scrapped on by the Centre on August 5, 2019. The Centre had also bifurcated the erstwhile state into UTs — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Article 370 of the Constitution gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir,
The PAGD is headed by NC president Farooq Abdullah.
We will contest the elections together, Abdullah had told reporters here recently.
Similar sentiments were expressed by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.
“We intend to contest the elections together as it is the will of the people that we should strive together for the restoration of our lost dignity,” she has said.
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