J&K polls likely in late Dec-early Jan

 The coming Assembly elections in four states are being delinked with Maharashtra and Haryana likely to go to polls first in the third week of October. The other two states–Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand– may witness elections in late December-early January.
The Election Commission is working on the schedules and may announce the programme for Maharashtra and Haryana by the middle of September, highly placed sources said.
Hectic discussions are on between the Commission and the Union Home Ministry on assessing the requirement of forces and their allocation.
Sensitive and hyper sensitive constituencies are being identified so that adequate forces can be deployed to ensure free and fair polls without violence.
The tenure of the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly comes to an end on November 8, while that of the 90-member Haryana House will end on October 27.
The sources said the schedule is being so worked that it would not clash with the current 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Maharashtra and the subsequent Navratri and Dussehra celebrations that end on October 3.
They said the Commission hopes to complete the polls in the two states before Diwali which falls on October 24.
The sources said the attempt was to see that the fortnight-long campaign period does not fall in the period of religious celebrations.

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