New Delhi: The pre-revision activities of electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir are in full swing, but recent developments suggest that the elections in the Union Territory are likely to be held early next year.
After the conclusion of the delimitation exercise of assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, there was strong speculation that assembly polls in the Union Territory will be conducted in November probably along with the other state polls including Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
But, the poll panel has fixed November 25 as the deadline for publication of the final electoral rolls. Officials said that it gives an indication that the polls are unlikely to be held this year.
Along with the ongoing pre-revision activities of electoral rolls, a recent announcement by the state election office that non-locals, including employees, students, labourers, or anyone from outside who is living ordinarily in Jammu and Kashmir will be able to register their names in the voting list created a buzz across the Union Territory.
As per the election office, any Indian citizen, including non-locals living or working in Jammu and Kashmir, can enlist their names in the voting list and vote in the assembly and local body elections.
The ongoing pre-revision activities comprise removal of discrepancies of duplicate entries including demographically similar entries and photo similar entries, preparation of supplements and integrated draft roll.
The draft of the voters’ list will be published on September 15, 2022, and it will be available at each polling station. Nearly 600 new polling stations have been added following the delimitation exercise and now the total number of polling stations is around 11,370.
Moreover, the ongoing special summary revision exercise is likely to add between 20 lakh to 25 lakh new voters. As per the Election Commission, the summary revision exercise has been taken up after more than three years as the last time it was done was in January 2019.
It means those who attained 18 years of age after January 1, 2019 will be added to the voters’ list and it is expected that a huge number of voters will be added and young voters, who turn 18 by October 1 will be eligible to be enrolled as voters.
Apart from this, the existing electoral rolls are being mapped into the newly delimited assembly constituencies as per the Delimitation Commission’s final order.
The Commission conducted the delimitation exercise based on the census data of the year 2011 and the criteria prescribed under section 9(1)(a) of the Delimitation Act, 2002 read with Section 60(2)(b) of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
The Commission has also considered the representations for geographical areas having inadequate communication and lack of public conveniences due to their excessive remoteness or inhospitable conditions on the international border. As against the previous number of 37 and 46 Assembly seats for Jammu region and Kashmir region respectively, the Delimitation Commission has notified 43 seats for Jammu region and 47 seats for Kashmir region.
Sources said that elections in the Union Territory are likely to be conducted in April or May next year. Inclement weather is also one of the factors while deciding the poll schedule.