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Restoring Statehood Plans or Poll Prep? Read into Agenda of Modi’s Meet with J&K Leaders

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In what could be called the first major step towards complete restoration of electoral democracy in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet an all-party delegation of political parties from J&K on June 24 in New Delhi. The meeting, which comes weeks before the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, is being seen as an outreach by New Delhi to regional political parties in the union territory who have been waiting since long for a roadmap towards a fresh political process in the erstwhile state.

Top sources, confirming the development from South Block, indicated that the invites for the meeting were already being distributed in Srinagar and Jammu. Two senior representatives from People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Apni Party confirmed to have received invitation for the said meeting when approached for a comment by CNN-News18. National Conference and Congress, however, so far hasn’t confirmed details of the said meeting or the participation of their senior leaders.

Union home minister Amit Shah had on Friday chaired a marathon meeting on Jammu & Kashmir along with Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha and top bureaucrats to review development work in J&K and the developing security situation. NSA Ajit Doval and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla were also part of the meeting. The high-level meeting is being seen as a sign of a political process under works which could very well see light of the day soon. This is the second time in less than two weeks that Sinha is camping in New Delhi for a marathon stock-taking meeting.

On top of the agenda was also the Amarnath Yatra which owing to second phase of the pandemic may likely only be held as a symbolic event like last year.

The readout from the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi said that the “Home Minister impressed upon speedy completion of the Prime Minister’s development package, flagship and iconic projects and industrial development projects.”

“The Union Home Minister directed to ensure the benefits of the refugee package to all the refugees from PoJK, West Pakistan and those who had to migrate from Kashmir to Jammu at the earliest”, it further said.

Assembly Polls after Delimitation?

Sources have indicated to CNN-News18 that the Union government is committed to completion of the delimitation process smoothly within 2021 with cooperation of all political parties so that assembly polls can be held at the earliest.

Sources indicated that possible dates and options for assembly polls which are being considered are in November/December in 2021 or March/April next year in multiple phases due to the security situation.

Top sources have also told CNN-News18 that the Union government could even consider restoring the statehood of J&K ahead of the first assembly polls since it became a Union Territory after abrogation of Article 370.

The all-party meeting has been called to seek opinion of all political parties for further political process in Jammu & Kashmir after successful grassroots level elections of District Development Council were held last year. All parties will be taken on board for assembly elections in J&K and their cooperation will be sought.

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