J&K Assembly polls not before March 2020: Report

Earlier, it was expected that the J&K Assembly polls would be held around October, along with Maharashtra and Haryana, or in November-December – possibly along with Jharkhand

Agencies

New Delhi, August 14:

The earliest possible date for the Legislative Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is around March 2020, The Hindu has reported citing Home Ministry officials.

This comes at a time when the Election Commission (EC) has held its first meeting to discuss delimitation for the newly-formed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The delimitation exercise has been necessitated under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. The Act will come into force on October 31.

Multiple reports suggest that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is yet to formally write to the poll panel on the issue of reorganisation of the state and the delimitation exercise.

Earlier, it was widely expected that the Assembly polls would be held around October, along with Maharashtra and Haryana, or in November-December – possibly along with Jharkhand.

The election is “unlikely” to happen in October as the proposed delimitation exercise “would take at least three months,” a government source told PTI.

“First the delimitation has to take place. The elections will follow,” the person explained.

On August 5, the Centre announced that the state was being bifurcated into two Union Territories (UTs) — J&K and Ladakh. While Ladakh will not have its own Legislature, J&K will have one.

J&K is currently under President’s Rule. There has been no Legislative Assembly for over a year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation earlier in August, said the people of J&K would be able to elect their own representatives very soon.

The UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a Lieutenant Governor. According to the Reorganisation Act, the total strength of its Legislative Assembly will increase from 107 seats to 114.

Delimitation is the process of redrawing or fixing limits of boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province with a legislative body.

The current effective strength of the J&K Assembly is 87. This includes four seats from the Ladakh region. However, Ladakh will not have its own Legislature.

As many as 24 seats of the Assembly continue to remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The Act also suggest that the Lieutenant Governor may nominate two members to the Legislative Assembly to improve women’s representation if, in his opinion, women are “not adequately” represented in the Legislature.

This delimitation exercise will also reserve Assembly seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in accordance with the Constitution.

 

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