Early Polls In Jammu And Kashmir Unlikely
4 May 2008
: Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, due by October, are not likely to take place earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baigh said on Saturday. 'Assembly elections would be held on due date,' Baigh said. All mainstream parties in the state are in election mode. 'Holding polls in the state is a Herculean task and presently we are busy making arrangements for the polls which in all likelihood may not be held before the due date,' said a senior government official in Srinagar. The term of the present state Assembly expires in October, and the election process for the next house has to be completed by that date. Reports suggest that the state and central governments are discussing the matter taking into account various factors. Elections in this state bordering Pakistan require massive logistics operations involving deployment of security forces and poll staff well in advance. The factors going against early polls are the already-started tourist season in the Kashmir valley and the annual Amarnath Yatra from June 18 to August-end, to be immediately followed by the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The Amarnath pilgrimage also requires massive deployment of army and paramilitary forces along the north and south routes leading to the Hindu cave shrine in the Himalayas. The major political parties including the ruling coalition partners the Congress and People's Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the main opposition National Conference have been holding poll rallies across the valley almost every day following an improvement in the security situation. The meetings are mostly well attended and a war of words has already begun between the two archrivals in the region, PDP and the National Conference.