NEW DELHI : Assembly elections in the Kashmir valley are likely to be held in October, a senior government official who is familiar with the development, said on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Parliament session.

This comes against the backdrop of expedited troop deployment and uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir over the fate of Article 35A of the Constitution, which prohibits outsiders from purchasing property in the sensitive border state.

The assembly elections are likely to provide the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) an opportunity to resurrect its political fortunes after failing to win a seat in the recent Lok Sabha elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Conference (NC) won three seats each.

The current strength of J&K assembly is 87 but the state has been under President’s rule since June 2018, the result of a spell of political instability.

The election, which needs to be cleared by the Election Commission (EC), will follow rising tension in the valley in the wake of the Union home ministry’s order last week deploying additional troops.

“Elections in Jammu and Kashmir will most likely be held in October. The EC will take the final decision on the matter," said the government official mentioned earlier.

The Centre has no plan to abrogate Article 35A in the immediate future, he added.

The Opposition has repeatedly raised the matter in the Rajya Sabha and home minister Amit Shah has also assured the Opposition during the ongoing budget session of Parliament that the Centre wanted free and fair elections to be held in J&K after the situation was deemed conducive by the poll panel.

The EC on its part has said that it will take stock of the situation after the Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage ends on 15 August.

“We had already said that a call on elections in Jammu and Kashmir will take place after Amarnath Yatra concludes which is mid-August. It is early to say when it will take place as a number of issues including security situation, weather and other local factors will be taken into account," a senior EC official said requesting anonymity.

Anuja contributed to this story.


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