The Jammu and Kashmir administration led by Governor Satya Pal Malik today recommended against holding the state assembly elections in June, and asked the Election Commission to consider pushing it to November instead. It cited the upcoming holy month of Ramzan, Amarnath Yatra, tourism season and movement of the nomadic Bakarwal tribe as some of the reasons for delaying the exercise.
During a meeting with the Election Commission, a team of senior officials headed by Chief Secretary BVR Subramanium also underlined the need to ensure proper security arrangements for the assembly polls. It said that at least 1,300 additional companies of central security forces will have to be called in for the purpose.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under central rule since June 2018, when BJP pulled out of the Mehbooba Mufti-led coalition government over "ideological differences".
According to Supreme Court guidelines, elections have to be held within six months of a state assembly's dissolution. In this case, a new assembly was supposed to have been put in place before May 22.
There is yet another constitutional deadline. If elections are not held before the end of President's rule by June 20, the centre will have to extend it by another six months. This would need parliamentary approval.
A report submitted by three Special Election Observers last week had recommended that the assembly polls be held in June, although certain sources suggest that it also gave the option of holding the polls after the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in September.
"However, as the schedule department of the Election Commission has not been asked to draw a schedule for the state polls yet, an announcement in this regard is unlikely to come anytime soon," a top official with the Election Commission told NDTV.
Although political parties in Jammu and Kashmir wanted the assembly polls to be held simultaneously with the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission held that the ground situation in the state was not conducive for such an exercise. With the state already having voted in three phases so far, polling will be conducted next on April 29 and May 6.
There are 87 assembly seats in the state, 46 of which are situated in the Kashmir region.