Srinagar July 09 : All eyes are on framing of report by three member Delimitation Commission who concluded their four days visit to Jammu and Kashmir where they met leaders of various political parties and representatives of various groups.
The three-member Delimitation Commission appointed in February 2020 is headed by Retired Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai while Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra, Jammu and Kashmir Election Commissioner Kewal Kumar Sharma are its members.
The Commission met leaders and groups from various communities of Kashmir on July 6 and 7, and leaders from Jammu on July 8 and 9. What was seen there were divergent views from political parties based in Kashmir and Jammu. The Kashmir centric parties allege that the delimitation exercise would favor a particular political party by raising seats in Jammu where BJP won maximum electoral seats in previous elections. While leaders of Jammu believe that they were underrepresented in the assembly.
Now it will be interesting to see if the Delimitation Commission increases some seats in Jammu region as political parties in the valley have alleged that the delimitation exercise is a “pre-planned” to favour a particular political party. Political parties of the valley say that delimitation should be done based on the 2011 population census or should be delayed till statehood is restored.
The ten districts of Kashmir Valley with nearly seven million residents, as per the 2011 census, has 46 seats while the Jammu Division with its population of a little more than five million had 37 seats in the 83 member assembly whose strength was raised to 90 after August 2019. Another 24 seats remain vacant — reserved for Pakistan administered Kashmir.
“We cannot be a part of some exercise, the outcome of which is widely believed to be pre-planned and which may further hurt the interests of our people. The process is aimed at realizing the political vision of a particular political party in J&K wherein, like other things, the views and wishes of the people of J&K would be considered the least. It is widespread belief that contours and outcome of the exercise here pre-planned and the exercise per say is mere formality,” reads of letter of the PDP to the Delimitation Commission.
The members of Delimitation Commission at a press conference on Friday according to news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS) said the “exercise will be transparent, and will put final draft for objections, debate”.
“There were 12 districts in 1995 which had increased to 20 now. The number of tehsils has gone up from 58 to 270. In 12 districts, constituency boundaries are extended beyond the district’s limit. There is an overlapping of districts as well as the tehsils in Constituencies. All such facts indicate that the public faces inconvenience due to such anomalies,” the members of the commission said.
They said the first draft will be prepared based on the demands of the people and political parties. According to reports, for the first time, some seats are likely to be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier, the National Conference presented a memorandum wherein it has stated that delimitation exercise would be a credible effort in strengthening democracy only after full statehood is restored to J&K.
The Congress in its memorandum also stressed for restoration of Statehood for Jammu & Kashmir before conducting the Delimitation process and it should be done in a transparent manner.
Peoples Conference has told the commission that no steps should be taken that would further alienate the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
J&K National Panthers Party demanded that the commission should distribute the seats on a 50:50 basis between two provinces of Union Territory.
The BJP has demanded the unfreezing of the 24 assembly seats falling in Pakistan administered Kashmir to grant reservation to people displaced from POK, Kashmir Pandits, SCs and STs.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the seats for Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will be increased by seven seats and they will go up from 83 to 90 post-delimitation. (KINS)