There is possibility that the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections will be held by the end of this year, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday, PTI reported.

Singh made the comment at an event in Jammu, pointing out that the decks were clear to hold the elections as the delimitation exercise for Assembly seats in the erstwhile state had been completed.

Jammu and Kashmir lost its statehood when the Centre scrapped its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and split the state into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019. Since then, Jammu and Kashmir has been under the Centre’s rule.

In February 2020, the Union government started the delimitation process – or redrawing boundaries – of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. On May 5, the number of Assembly seats was increased from 83 to 90 in the final delimitation order.

Of the seven new seats, one was given to Kashmir, taking its total to 46, and six were given to Jammu, which now has 43 seats.

While it is a routine effort in some parts of the country, the delimitation process is much more politically sensitive in Jammu and Kashmir because of fears that the Bharatiya Janata Party may use it to alter political outcomes in what was earlier India’s only Muslim-majority state.

On Friday, the defence minister gave a tentative timeline for the Assembly polls two days after the Election Commission started the process to revise the electoral rolls for Jammu and Kashmir. During the exercise, citizens will be given opportunities to enroll themselves, or delete and change their details in the electoral rolls.

The process to prepare the draft rolls will be completed by August 31, the election body has said, according to PTI.

On multiple occasions, the Union government has assured that statehood will be restored for Jammu and Kashmir once the elections are held.