Lingering Poll Uncertainty

THE Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar on Wednesday yet again didn’t give any date for Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir  Addressing a press conference to announce schedule for Karnataka Assembly election, Kumar said that the Election Commission is aware of the “vacuum” in J&K and is taking steps to fill it. He also pointed out that the delimitation process and the special summary revision of the electoral rolls in J&K had already been completed. Recently, the poll panel had ordered a fresh special summary revision of the electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir. April 1 has been set as the qualifying date for the summary revision and May 10 is the date for publication of the final electoral rolls.

The takeaway is that we can’t immediately look forward to Assembly elections in the union territory, something the former J&K Chief Minister Omer Abdullah has also said. Taking to Twitter, Omer said that the Election Commission seemed to be in no hurry to conduct the assembly polls in J&K and managed to find “new excuses to delay” the elections, Omer said it has been eight years since the last assembly elections were conducted in the UT and five years since it had an elected government, blaming the delay on the BJP;s fear to face the electorate.

Even as the country braces for 2024 general elections, there are no signs that the Assembly elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir. And with every passing month, the hope that the polls will be held in the union territory before the national elections is fading fast.  This, despite the fact, that the entire political class in the UT, except the BJP, want the elections to be held in the near future.

J&K has not had an elected government since June 2018 when Governor’s rule was imposed after the PDP-led coalition government lost its majority following the withdrawal of support by the BJP. Subsequently, on August 5, 2019, New Delhi abrogated Article 370 that granted J&K special status under India’s constitution. Since then the Lieutenant Governor has taken over from Governor.

Earlier this month, a delegation of political leaders led by National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah met the Election Commission of India, seeking early elections in the Union Territory. The delegation requested the ECI to hold elections as soon as possible now that the delimitation process had been completed.  The political leaders also submitted a memorandum to the ECI, in which they called for the restoration of the democratic process in the UT. But there has been no election-related move from the Election Commission to hold the polls in the UT.  And this is happening at a time when, for once, there is a palpable desire for elections in the region.

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