Srinagar: The political parties including Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC) and many others have strongly opposed the redrawing and renaming of assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Delimitation Commission in its interim report changed the complexion of most of the 90 assembly seats in the UT, renaming 28 new constituencies and deleting 19 segments.
The commission has suggested six additional seats in Jammu and one in Kashmir. In the Jammu division, Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Rajouri, Doda and Kishtwar districts will get one each and in the Kashmir division, Kupwara district will get one.
Seventeen constituencies have been redrawn in the Jammu province while 11 have been reconfigured in the Kashmir division. Similarly, nine names of assembly constituencies in the Jammu division have vanished due to the reconfiguration and 10 names disappear from the Kashmir division.
The Commission has advocated a Lok Sabha seat in south Kashmir with the merger of three districts (Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian) in the Kashmir division and two districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Pir Panjal valley in the Jammu province.
The south Kashmir seat will be named Anantnag-Rajouri seat, which will comprise a significant population of non-Kashmiri speaking, Schedule Tribe Assembly segments. The newly carved Lok Sabha seat will have six of the nine Assembly segments reserved for the STs.
Similarly, the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat will now comprise Assembly segments spread over five districts of Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama, Ganderbal and Shopian against the earlier three.
North Kashmir’s Baramulla Lok Sabha seat will be spread over four districts, which include parts of Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora.
The Jammu Lok Sabha seat will now comprise districts of Jammu, Samba and Reasi. The Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency is spread over five districts against six in the past.
Former chief minister and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti slammed the Delimitation Commission over its proposal to redraw the constituencies in the Union Territory (UT).
“The draft is a reflection of the BJP furthering its divisive agenda, separating Hindus and Muslims. They want to make a Godse’s India,” media quoted Mufti as saying. “It is unacceptable. A sheer dictatorship is prevailing in the country,” she alleged.
The former chief minister further alleged that the BJP is trying to “Strengthen its constituencies and attempting to make voters irrelevant”.
Mufti mentioned that the issue of the Delimitation Commission’s draft will be discussed in the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD0) on February 23, media reports said.
“The Delimitation Commission’s proposal has not come as a surprise. It is another onslaught of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir,” PDP chief claimed.
Both NC and BJP members have already submitted their responses on the first draft proposal to the Commission. It remains to be seen if the Commission will incorporate suggestions in the draft proposal likely to be made public.
The Commission came into being by virtue of an Act of the Parliament, under the provisions of Part V of the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019. It is redrawing boundaries of seven additional seats for the 83-member Assembly.
Similarly, the UT’s oldest political party National Conference (NC) rejected the draft proposal of the Delimitation Commission, which has suggested the creation of new constituencies and redrawing of others in Jammu and Kashmir.
“NC summarily rejects draft working paper made available by Delimitation Commission to associate members on 4th February 2022,” NC spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar was quoted by media as saying.
Dar said that a detailed response will be made public after the discussion on the implications of what has been proposed in the report by the Commission.
Pertinently the J&K Delimitation Commission was constituted on March 6, 2020, after the abrogation of Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The commission is likely to get a second extension of its term this month. This may further delay any announcement of Assembly elections in the Union Territory.
Media has quoted sources as saying that the three-member Commission headed by a retired judge, Ranjana Prakash Desai is planning to make its draft proposal public this month for feedback from the political parties, civil society groups and common citizens of J&K.
With its second tenure nearing an end in the next 34 days, the J&K Delimitation Commission’s members are likely to hold a meeting in New Delhi in the coming days to take a final call on the extension and its period.