Assembly elections in J&K possibly by year-end, says Rajnath

Jammu: In the first indication of a timeline for assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir since it was downgraded to a Union Territory, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said there is a possibility of holding the polls “by this year-end”.
Addressing a function here to celebrate the 200th year of the coronation of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the defence minister said the delimitation exercise has been completed following which the number of seats has gone up to 90 with Kashmir having 47 seats and Jammu 43.
Rajnath Singh, who is on a two-day visit to J&K, said, “By this year-end, there is a possibility of holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.”
The indication of a timeline comes two days after the Election Commission initiated the revision of electoral rolls in the union territory and prepare the draft rolls by August 31.
According to the officials, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey carried out a review and directed the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer to map the redrawn assembly constituencies.
During the revision exercise, citizens would be given opportunities to enrol, delete and change their particulars in the electoral rolls.
Last month, the Central government issued a notification saying the orders of the Delimitation Commission which redrew electoral constituencies and provided six additional assembly seats to the Jammu division and one to Kashmir would come into effect from May 20.
According to the orders of the Delimitation Commission, set up under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019, the Union Territory will have 90 assembly constituencies — 43 in the Jammu division and 47 in Kashmir — with nine of them being reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.
The erstwhile state had 87 seats — 46 in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh. During its reorganisation, Ladakh was declared a separate union territory without a legislature.
The three-member delimitation panel was headed by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, a retired judge of the Supreme Court. Then chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra (now retired) and Jammu and Kashmir Election Commissioner K K Sharma were its two ex-officio members.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir leaders on June 24 last year, had said the ongoing delimitation exercise has to happen quickly so that polls can be held to install an elected government that gives strength to its development trajectory.

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