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Assembly Polls: ECI directs CEOs of J&K, 3 others states to update voters’ list

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NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Friday said it has initiated preparations for forthcoming assembly elections in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand with updation of electoral rolls in these states along with that in Jammu and Kashmir.
July 1, 2024 will be the qualifying date for roll updation. For the just-held Lok Sabha polls, the voters’ list was updated with January 1 as the qualifying date.
Qualifying date helps establish number of voters on a given date in a state or in the country.
The term of the existing legislative assemblies in the three states are going to end on November 3, November 26 and January 5, 2025 respectively and elections to these legislative assemblies are required to be conducted before the completion of their terms.
Besides, assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir are also to be conducted for constituting a new house after delimitation of constituencies, the EC noted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on Thursday that assembly elections would be held soon in Jammu and Kashmir and plans are underway to restore statehood to the union territory in the near future. In his first visit to the valley after becoming the prime minister for the third consecutive term, Modi emphasised the importance of enabling the people of Jammu and Kashmir to elect their representatives for the assembly.
“Witnessing the huge participation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the Commission has also directed for the updation of electoral rolls in the UT with July 1, 2024 as the qualifying date,” the poll authority said.
In an indication that assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir are imminent, the Election Commission had on June 7 said it has decided to accept applications seeking allotment of ‘common symbols’ from registered unrecognised parties in the Union Territory with immediate effect.
An official had explained that under Para 10 B of the Election Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order, 1968, any registered unrecognised political party can apply for a ‘common symbol’ six months prior to the end of the term of a House.
But since no assembly is functional in Jammu and Kashmir, the EC has issued a press statement inviting applications for symbols.
While recognised national and state parties have their ‘reserved symbols’, registered unrecognised parties have to apply for one to field candidates. When free symbols are allocated to unrecognised parties, the returning officer allocates the remaining unclaimed symbols to Independents “on the spot”.
Enthused by the voter participation in Jammu and Kashmir in the just-held Lok Sabha polls, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar had recently told PTI that the poll panel will “very soon” initiate the process of holding assembly polls in the Union Territory. While announcing the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections in March, Kumar said holding assembly and parliamentary elections simultaneously was not practical due to logistical and security reasons.
Whenever assembly elections are held in Jammu and Kashmir, they will be the first since the August 2019 abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.
The electoral exercise in Jammu and Kashmir is usually spread over a month.
Following a delimitation exercise, the number of assembly seats has gone up from 83 to 90, excluding those allocated to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
In December, the Supreme Court directed the poll panel to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir by September 30.
The EC said pre-updation activities will begin from June 25 to set up or rationalise polling stations at locations most convenient to electors in group housing societies, slums, city outgrowths and rural areas.

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