The Jammu and Kashmir administration wants the assembly elections in the state to be held in June, sources have indicated. However, that would depend on what the Election Commission eventually decides.
According to officials, a team of poll observers that visited the state to conduct a ground assessment has submitted its report to the Central Election Commissioner. Under consideration are three options, the first one of which is to conduct the assembly elections after Eid - from June 8 to 24 - in six or seven phases. This way, the period of Ramzan can be avoided," a senior functionary in the government explained.
According to him, this will allow security forces to get a breather before the Amarnath Yatra begins on July 1. "The number of polling booths will remain the same as the Lok Sabha elections, and only the candidate count will increase. But as central forces are already in the state, providing security to candidates who are contesting the elections will not be a problem," the senior functionary added.
As of now, as many as 450 companies are stationed in Jammu and Kashmir to assist Election Commission officials in conducting the Lok Sabha polls.
The mood in Jammu region is tense in the wake of an RSS worker's murder in Kishtwar. Speeches delivered by Kashmiri leaders Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have also helped the BJP further consolidate its vote bank, and the party believes that the tide may turn in its favour if elections are held early.
Delhi also feels that the summer would pass off peacefully if political parties get into election mode. "The state's economy depends on a calmer May-June period, and if elections are conducted during this period, it will benefit us all," another bureaucrat explained.
Another option put forth by poll observers is to conduct the elections from May 15 to June 15. "An important factor to consider is the polling percentage in the Srinagar and Udhampur constituencies, which go to the polls in the second phase," said an officer who was part of the meetings held between observers and the state administration.
According to him, officials also considered holdings the elections in September during their meetings. "It's a constitutional obligation to conduct the assembly elections within six months of imposing President's Rule," he said, when asked to explain the rush to hold it when the centre refused to give the go-ahead for simultaneous polls only a month ago.
President's Rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir last December.
There are 87 assembly seats in the state, of which 46 are situated in the Kashmir region. The Lok Sabha elections in the state are being conducted in five phases.