Poll dates may be announced on Thursday or Friday: Sources

New Delhi, Mar 9
The Election Commission of India will visit Jammu and Kashmir from Monday to Wednesday to assess when polls can be held in the Union Territory and the dates for the Lok Sabha elections are likely to be revealed immediately after that, sources have told NDTV. The announcement may be made on Thursday or Friday.
The Commission's visit to Jammu and Kashmir comes after the Supreme Court had directed it to hold Assembly elections in the Union Territory (UT) by September. The Centre had then asked the panel to assess whether the Assembly elections in the UT could be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.
"Once the assessment is complete and the visit ends on Wednesday, the commission may announce the dates for the Lok Sabha elections on Thursday or Friday," a source said. The model code of conduct will come into effect as soon as the elections are announced and parties have been making promises and inaugurating projects on a war footing before that happens.
As far as the polls in Jammu and Kashmir are concerned, the commission has been given a full briefing by the security establish- ment and the entire panel, including Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Arun Goel, will visit the Union Territory.
The last Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir were held in 2014 and the State was bifurcated after Article 370, which gave it special status, was abrogated in 2019. The Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh came into existence after that.
During a hearing on a bunch of petitions challenging the scrapping of Article 370, the Supreme Court had, in December last year, directed the Election Commi- ssion to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir by September 30. Upholding the Union Government's decision to abrogate Article 370, the Court had directed it to take steps to restore the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, the People's Democratic Party led by Mehbooba Mufti and the BJP had formed a coalition Government. It collapsed in 2018 after the BJP pulled its support and Jammu and Kashmir has not had an elected Government since then.
The PDP is now part of the INDIA Alliance but there have been rumblings after the Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference (NC) said it will contest all three seats in Kashmir on its own and leave the two in Jammu for the Congress.
Terming the NC's decision "disappointing", Ms Mufti also accused the NC of reducing the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) to a "joke". The PAGD is an alliance of parties, including the NC and the PDP, that had come together to seek the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.  NDTV