BR Editorial Desk
New Delhi, Mar 10: Following the completion of elections in the northeast and the end of winter, the J&K poll calendar has reopened. Officials told The Biz Reporter that the Election Commission must now make the first move to examine the Union Territory’s readiness.
Most election-related activities had been completed by November-December, including the rationalisation of polling locations based on the delimitation exercise and the summary revision of the rolls, but polls could not be scheduled owing to the arrival of winter.
Since December 19, 2018, J&K has been subject to President’s Rule. The previous state’s assembly elections were held in November 2014. The overall security picture and the availability of forces for election duty will be important determinants of the vote calendar. The same must be evaluated following a thorough conversation, which the EC will undertake with the Minister of Home Affairs.
According to tradition, there are two windows for J&K elections in 2023. One will take place in May, and the other after the Amarnath yatra is completed. Typically, the EC prefers to complete polls in J&K by early December, due to the inaccessibility of the higher reaches due to snowfall.
The security scenario will be critical, as a large deployment of forces would be required. During polls, Tripura needs about 1,000 firms.
While violence and stone pelting are at an all-time low in J&K, targeted deaths of Kashmiri Pandits and civilians in Jammu have aroused new concerns. In the first two months of this year, nine people were killed, compared to 19 in the same period last year.
The Centre will also consider whether to withdraw CRPF battalions from anti-Naxal operations. It would also like to complete legislative business before the elections.
The MHA will seek to expedite the measure granting Kashmiri Pandits representation in the new assembly during the forthcoming Parliament session next week. A separate bill is likely to be submitted to add the Pahari, Padri, Koli, and Gada Brahmin communities to J&K’s Scheduled Tribes list.