No simultaneous LS and Assembly polls in J&K , runs against the promises of the past

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | March 16, 2024 IST

Arun Joshi

Yet again the Election Commission of India  did not announce schedule for J&K Assembly polls,  claiming the union Territory administration  had said  “ No” in one voice to the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections . This deferment of elections in J&K at this stage is full of many national  and international  reflections as the Government had been claiming , and justifiably so , that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has transformed to the extent that the people were free of all sorts of fear, and they were living life on their terms. That is the freedom from terrorists, their acts of violence and Pakistan sponsored dictates .

The Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, who had started his speech at the all-important press conference before announcing the poll schedule that Assembly polls would be held in four states – Odisha, Andhra Pradesh , Arunachal Pradesh are also due.  But when it came to announcing the schedule, J&K did not  find any mention . the exclusion of J&K from the simultaneous polls was quite obvious , and that left a series of questions  unanswered.

Rajiv Kumar , while  justifying the delay  dug into the technical  details into  the J&K’s election landscape post abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 . He referred to the reorganization of the state, by which the state was divided into two union territories – Ladakh, and J&K, and then jumped to the delimitation commission that submitted its recommendations on May 5, 2022 .Thereafter, as the government had been stating repeatedly that once the Delimitation Commission submits its report, the Assembly polls would be held . Next came the electoral revision and the  addition in the number of seats by nomination . It is true that the whole process concluded in December 2023 , but all these are technicalities that  were cited to  justify the poll delay. Even when the CEC said that it  had  been only three months since December 2023 , therefore it is no delay at all . But the moot question remains , why the Assembly polls were not held within six months, as stipulated by the Constitution , after the dissolution of the J&K Assembly Ion November 2018 . By that schedule by May 2019 , the polls should have been held . though LS polls were held, but Assembly elections were deferred  and those continue to be deferred again. The last Assembly elections in J&K were held in  November-December 2003.

That J&K will not assembly polls  will raise eyebrows among people in the UT , and also nationally and internationally . There has been lot of development in Jammu and Kashmir – it is a power hub of developmental activities , and peace has dawned after decades , yet Assembly elections have not been held and no roadmap is in  sight either . The people of J&K , who have been under Central rule since June20,2018 , are disappointed .The political leaders have been suspecting something fishy in. the whole thing as they are unable to convince themselves that the plane of democracy in J&K is different and more  challenging than the rest of the country . It’s not a question of the  technicality that Election Commission got its mandate to hold the polls since December 2023 – but the question that remains unanswered that why attempts to fill political vacuum in this territory was not taken on priority . Three months is not a short time . Then, it  should have undertaken the exercise , but it didn’t . ECI had visited J&K only in the last  leg of its tour of the states and UTs of the country.

For political parties and people, it is important to display  their faith in the democracy in Lok Sabha polls to leave no room for  apprehensions for the  Assembly polls since  ECI has promised that it will start the work on J&K polls after the  conclusion of  Parliamentary polls.

Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)

Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with


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