ASSEMBLY POLLS IN J&K

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TO BE OR NOT TO BE

Political players keen, Centre not revealing cards

There are no signs of elections to be held in Jammu and Kashmir anytime soon, though media reports keep referring to them. Rumours are swirling that elections in Jammu and Kashmir may be held simultaneously with Parliament elections in 2024. Some sources in the government say that J&K elections could be held just before Parliament elections. Others hold forth that elections to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly could be held in the build-up to the Lok Sabha elections. In February, talk of elections was rife. The major political players were hoping that Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be held within 2022. The talk had gained such dominance that all the political forces in Jammu and Kashmir had swung into election mode. Many bureaucrats serving in the Union Territory confided to friends on many occasions during private conversations about the political fervour building up. The bureaucrats confided that the political leaders who visited them during February would tell them in jest or in seriousness to count their days. This enthusiasm fizzled out since there are no indications whatsoever either from the political establishment in New Delhi or from the Election Commission of India about holding elections in the Union Territory anytime soon. The leading political players have gone into silent mode on the issue because the Central government and the Election Commission have remained tight lipped with regard to holding the elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

THE GRAVITY OF THE ISSUE

Sources in the establishment say that the Centre is moving cautiously on the issue of resuming elections in the Union Territory. The government has the realization that since this shall be the first election after annulling the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, it is no ordinary poll. The government has to take into consideration many crucial factors before it announces the election. Meanwhile, the Delimitation Commission is yet to finalize its report on creation and reorganization of Assembly and Parliament constituencies. It is likely that the Commission may ask for another long extension for finalizing the report. That aside, sources inform that the government has to take a grip on many other factors before initiating any talk on the date for J&K Assembly elections. Authoritative sources agree that there is there is compulsion for the government to hold the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir, alongside the constitutional obligation. But sources reveal that special circumstances ranging from security-related concerns for Kashmir to the tenor of the statements made by some political figures are holding the Centre back from announcing the dates. As reported in many preceding editions of KASHMIR CENTRAL, Pakistan is determined to increase the level of violence in Kashmir in the summer of 2022. The militants have provided glimpses of the way things may take shape this year by reviving the grenade blast culture. The number of active foreign terrorists has gone up considerably during the last few months. Intelligence inputs suggest that many more dreaded terrorists are at the launching pads across LOC, waiting to sneak in. Intelligence reports indicate that soft target killings by terrorists could rise in the coming months. Political activists are already been targeted; some have been killed. Pakistan’s clear objective is to discourage Kashmiris from from participating in the elections.

TALKS RIFE: WILL J&K HAVE A CM FROM JAMMU REGION?

There is animated discussion on another issue regarding polls in J&K. The point of debate among many stakeholders is whether the outcome of the elections shall give the government a handle to opt for a chief minister from Jammu region. According to some sources, under the new delimitation plan, the prospects of a chief minister from Jammu region are higher than ever before. Authoritative sources reveal that the government is ready to opt for this experiment because the Kashmir-centric political forces have lost the trust of New Delhi. Under such a scenario, the BJP government at the Centre may opt for this political adventure. The only challenge before the government is how to address the narrative of “disempowerment of Kashmiris” being played out by the political class of Kashmir locally, and by Pakistan internationally.

 

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