Summer elections will ensure a larger voter turnout in the Valley as compared to winter season.
New Delhi: Assembly elections to the newly-created Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory, which will formally come into existence from October 31, will in all probability be held in 2021. Sources claim summer of 2021 was the earliest that Assembly polls could be held in the UT and till then, it would be directly governed by the Centre through the governor.
The Centre wants to use this time to go in for a major development push in J&K, stabilise the law and order situation and provide sufficient time to the Election Commission to carry out the delimitation drive which would result in 90 seats in the new Assembly of the J&K Union Territory.
Senior officials at the Centre, who are monitoring J&K developments, claimed that brining normalcy to the J&K was the first priority for the government and the local administration rather than holding elections. “Even elections to the new Assembly can be held only when the situation on the ground is totally normal and that in all probability would take some time. So we want to utilise the time between now and the summer of 2021 to work on multiple fronts particularly security and developments before elections can be held,’’ a senior home ministry official said.
Home secretary A.K. Bhalla held a meeting with top brass from different ministries earlier this week, directing them to chalk out a “timebound development plan for J&K.’’ The Centre, officials added, was very keen that people in the Valley must see for themselves as to how revocation of Article 370 has led to more overall growth and development of the region and thus the decision was in the in their long term interest.
Thus, there could be a slew of announcements coming in the days ahead related to infrastructure projects, particularly on construction of roads and state highways, education, basic health care, industry, communication and a major push for tourism with private investment. Though a decision has already been taken to fill 50,000 vacancies in the J&K administration and paramilitary forces in the next few days, government plans to more than double this number before the J&K UT goes to polls.
The period from October 31, when the new UT will come into existence till summer of 2021, would also provide the Election Commission sufficient time to conduct a detailed delimitation exercise for the new 90-member Assembly. Also, summer elections will ensure a larger voter turnout in the Valley as compared to winter season.
“We are working according to a plan for J&K and the seriousness of the government can be judged from the fact that the schedule related to overall growth in the Valley would be implemented within fixed deadline. So we are very hopeful that people in J&K will be able to get a new elected government in summer of 2021,’’ the official added.