J&K, Jharkhand assembly polls to begin on 25 November

Assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand will be held in five phases between 25 November and 20 December, the Election Commission announced today.

The counting of votes will be held simultaneously on 23 December.

Bypolls for three assembly seats in Delhi will also be held during the first phase of voting on 25 November.

The dates for polling are 25 November, 2 December, 9 December, 14 December, and 20 December.

The multi-phase voting in J&K, the state most affected by foreign-inspired militancy, and Jharkhand, a hotbed of home-grown Maoist insurgency, will be a test for the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress as well as other political formations.

Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir will vote on 25 November, 2 December, 9 December, December 14 and 20 December, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said at a press conference in New Delhi.

By-elections to three Delhi assembly constituencies which fell vacant after BJP legislators got elected to the Lok Sabha will also be held on 25 November.

The BJP has high stakes in these polls: it hopes to form a majority government in Jharkhand, emerge as a strong player in J&K and retain all three assembly seats of Delhi that would keep its hope of government formation in the national capital alive.    

The Congress is hard-pressed to retain Jharkhand and J&K after losing Maharashtra and Haryana to the Narendra Modi-led BJP. Its alliance with the National Conference (NC) in J&K broke up ahead of the elections and there is no clarity on whether it will go along with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in the tribal state.

Losses in J&K and Jharkhand would mean further marginalisation for India's grand old party,barely months after it was reduced to just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha.