Voting body begins work for first J&K election after redrawing electoral map


The ball started rolling in the elections in Jammu and Kashmir. The Electoral Commission has begun to take stock of security in the region as well as preparations for the poll.

ECI ASSESS CURRENT SITUATION IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR

The commission held its first meeting on the conduct of assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir after the boundary commission submitted its report. Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar chaired a meeting with J&K Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar and other officials to assess the situation on the ground.

Early assessments show that general preparations for the poll should be completed by October, after which elections can be held in November.

If it’s not October-November, then in all likelihood elections will be held after March, once the weather becomes favorable, the election commission said.

Read also | India hits out at OIC over ‘unwarranted’ comments on Jammu-Kashmir demarcation

J&K’s CEO briefed the commission on the current situation and explained the requirements for the 90 assembly districts created by the boundary ordinance.

The need of the hour is streamlining polling stations and mapping how polling stations will cover new constituencies, which is expected to take three months.

Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government since June 2018 when the BJP pulled out of the coalition government with the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

SECURITY SITUATION IN THE VALLEY: A CONCERN FOR ECI

With the spate of murders at J&K in recent years, the commission is keeping tabs on the situation. The recent murders of Kashmiri Pandits and migrant workers in Union territory keep security agencies on high alert.

The Chief Electoral Officer has provided regular updates to the commission on this matter.

Read also | Targeted assassinations, hybrid terrorists putting Kashmir back on the razor’s edge?

ECI will also have to appoint officials for each of the 90 constituencies. The priorities of the commission are – the security situation in the region, the security of electoral officials, the smooth running of the electoral process.

The revision of the electoral lists will also be a difficult task for the commission.

OPPN PARTIES REJECT BOUNDARY COMMISSION REPORT

The Boundary Commission has recommended the representation of Kashmiri Pandits and Displaced Persons from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) by appointment in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. A total of nine seats will also be reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs) for the first time.

The commission has recommended seats for at least two members (one of whom must be a woman) from the Kashmiri migrant community and these members can be given power equal to the power of the appointed members.

For Kashmir, it had been suggested to increase the seats in the Assembly from 46 to 47, while the Jammu region would have 43 seats instead of 37. Jammu and Kashmir will have 90 seats in the Assembly.

Once the report was made public, the main opposition political parties – National Conference, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI and J&K civil society organizations rejected the report on the delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) submitted by a panel earlier this month, claiming that it ignored the realities on the ground and was politically motivated.

Alleging that the commission’s recommendations were made at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the parties said the report ran counter to geographical realities as well as standards of uniform population, continuity of compactness, of connectivity and public convenience, in addition to being very biased.

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