PRESIDENT’S RULE in Jammu and Kashmir is set for an extension with the Election Commission (EC) deciding to hold assembly elections only “later this year”.
As first reported by The Indian Express on May 19, state polls will announced after the Amarnath Yatra ends in August as the Union Home Ministry had informed EC that it will be unable to spare central forces before that.
In a press statement issued Tuesday, the Commission said, “Election Commission, under Article 324 of the Constitution and other extant laws/rules etc. have unanimously decided that holding of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir shall be considered later in this year. The Commission will keep on regularly and on real time basis monitoring the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, taking inputs from all necessary quarters and after the conclusion of Amarnath Yatra will announce the election schedule for the conduct of assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir.”
The 46-day annual pilgrimage, beginning on July 1, takes up a lot of the state administration’s time and requires heavy security deployment. In fact, as the security forces need to man the entire national highway from Lakhanpur to Kashmir Valley and other yatra routes from Baltal and Pahalgam to the holy shrine, the state administration starts deploying them at least a fortnight before the start of the Yatra.
Planning for J&K polls had been caught between two views with EC’s special observers telling the Commission that the state should go to polls in either five or six phases right after the Lok Sabha elections in May-June and the Union Home Ministry and the J&K administration pitching for elections after August.
The state has been without an elected government after the BJP pulled the plug on the coalition government with PDP in June last year. The state was then first placed under Governor’s Rule on June 19, 2018 and has been under President’s rule since December 19. President’s rule will have to be extended in June, if the Commission finally decides to hold assembly elections after the Amarnath Yatra.