Srinagar: The Delimitation Commission set has claimed to have completed its data collection process even as it has yet to visit the Union Territory to hold interaction with people here, reported Greater Kashmir.
Quoting unnamed officials, the report said the Commission has completed data collection. However, it is preparing a framework to carve out assembly constituencies on the basis of the 2011 census.
BJP General Secretary (Organisation) Ashok Koul said the Commission will increase the assembly seats.
“After completing its report, it will visit J&K to seek views of political parties and people (on it),” said Koul, adding that by the end of December, the Commission may complete its exercise and submit the report.
“The assembly seats will increase and some will be reserved for Scheduled Tribe in both the regions of J&K based on their population,” said Koul, hoping that assembly elections would be held thereafter.
However, the political parties in J&K other than BJP have questioned the credibility of the data collection.
“Nothing is known about the Delimitation Commission on the ground. The Commission may be doing some paperwork on its own, but it is not in the public domain,” J&K Congress chief spokesperson, Ravinder Sharma, said.
He said that any such exercise should be conducted by taking into confidence the mainstream political parties of J&K.
“We have constituted a committee headed by Peerzada Sayeed to monitor this issue,” Sharma said, hoping that the delimitation would be conducted under rules and not as per the wishes of a political party.
Senior National Conference leader Ali Mohammed Sagar said that his party has disassociated itself from the delimitation process. “However, we want that delimitation should be conducted with the participation of representatives of the people and people themselves,” he said.
Sagar further said that an elected government in the legislative assembly of erstwhile J&K state had unanimously passed a bill providing that the delimitation shall happen in 2026. “The parameters were also set for next delimitation i.e. 2026 in the bill which was passed with the support of all the political parties of J&K. In that bill, it was mentioned that every region should get representation,” he said.
“To our knowledge, no process has started,” he said.
Ex-MLC and senior PDP leader Firdous Ahmed Tak said: “We strongly believe that the delimitation process is just another leaf from the book of the BJP and the RSS aimed at politically disempowering Muslims of Jammu region in particular.”
Tak said this was another “divisive agenda” of the BJP.
“The constitution of the commission and process associated with it is just to give legal and constitutional shape to the BJP’s plan of demographic change in J&K,” Tak said.
Meanwhile, the Apni Party has demanded assembly elections in J&K as early as possible. “Elections should not be held hostage to the delimitation,” said a senior Apni Party leader.
“We are also analyzing the latest statistics and will not accept any arbitrary decision of the commission. At an appropriate time, we will file our own suggestions and objections, if required,” he said, adding that the party expected that the commission will work in a “more transparent” manner.
Besides redrawing the Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of the four northeastern states of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, the delimitation panel, set up in March this year, is tasked to increase the assembly seats of Jammu and Kashmir as per the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019.
The process would be carried out on the basis of the 2011 Census. Even though Section 63 of the Act says that readjustment of constituencies in J&K would not be necessary until after the figures of the first census taken post-2026 are published, a presidential notification issued on October 1 last year suspended operation of the section.
The erstwhile state of J&K had 87 seats in the assembly and 6 in Parliament, which got reduced to 83 and 5, respectively, after it was bifurcated to make Ladakh a separate union territory. So effectively, the seats will go up from 83 to 90 for J&K.
People in Kashmir view the delimitation exercise as a move to shift more power towards Jammu by increasing the assembly seats there. However, people in Jammu see it as a move correcting Kashmir’s historical dominance over Jammu.
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