Edited By: Nitya Thirumalai
Last Updated: January 03, 2023, 11:30 IST
Jammu and Kashmir is likely to head into its first Assembly elections this year since becoming a Union Territory in 2019 and the Centre has been taking feedback from the state administration and local leaders to ensure smooth conduct of the polls.
BJP sources told News18 that Union Home Minister Amit Shah has held a round of meetings with the administrative wing and sought feedback on how soon the elections can be held.
A senior party leader said J&K elections could be held between September and October since the weather during that period would not deter voters from going to polling booths. Another senior leader said the month of April is also being considered for early elections.
“Weather after May becomes too hot in Jammu and in the Valley, the winter season poses a challenge due to snowfall. The administration for now looks unwilling to undertake any exercise but the ground situation is suitable to conduct elections. In fact, I would say that the party is preparing for elections for the past two years in the UT,” said the second leader quoted above.
Sources added that the Home Ministry has sought reports on whether the ground situation is congenial for elections. “Any democratic process should not be halted. There were reasons to take the UT under Lt Governor’s ambit but people should experience free and fair elections. Democracy is our country’s strength,” a source said.
While there are no talks on restoring J&K’s statehood yet, few in the BJP believe it will be restored when a democratically elected government maintains peace in the UT.
“The situation today is much better, barring Pakistan’s attempts to disturb the peace. Our forces are giving befitting replies to such elements,” the leader quoted above said.
Security for Elections
Many believe elections will be easier to hold in April or September-October as the Centre can spare paramilitary forces to ensure free and fair polls. “There are no major polls in the country and post 2023, everyone will be busy with the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. In a region where Pakistan still attempts to disturb peace through violence, presence of central forces is a must,” a leader said.
Jammu and Kashmir hasn’t voted in Assembly elections since the BJP withdrew support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition government in 2018.
The BJP, meanwhile, will also keep a close watch on the Gupkar Alliance’s response to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit in January-end when his Bharat Jodo yatra culminates in Srinagar.
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