The delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir: A hidden Agenda

The delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir: A hidden Agenda

 

The Indian government proposed a delimitation commission to redraw the parliamentary and assembly constituencies in J&K. It announced its decision in the Gazette of India on March 14. The commission stayed on its decision to allot six out of seven seats to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. The political figures in the valley criticized it as a Hindu favoring decision. The commission has not changed anything regarding the Lok Sabha constituencies.

Diverging opinions

The delimitation commission’s report has raised issues among the political class as well as the residents of Kashmir valley. They are questioning the necessity of redrawing electoral constituencies in J&K when it is on hold elsewhere until 2026. The Srinagar political parties raised the issue in front of Prime Minister Modi when he met them in June 2021.

They stated that democracy does not allow the delimitation of the union territory before elections. But, when their plea went to deaf ears, they turned to the media. Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister, pointed out the discrimination in policies of the central government.

However, the union government claims that it decided to merge Jammu and Kashmir with India. On the other hand, it treated Srinagar differently by carrying out a process of delimitation.

What is the current government’s formula?

The present government separated Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. Now the officials, want to determine the number of constituencies falling under both union territories. But, this departs from the original formula of considering the population in the determination of the number of constituencies.

After the separation, Jammu Kashmir had only 83 seats, which increased to 90. With the Kashmir region getting 46 seats, Jammu and Ladakh got 37 and 4 seats respectively.

The People’s Democratic Party of Kashmir did not join the committee for deliberation. The party’s general secretary, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, wrote a letter to the chief election commissioner. He criticized the government’s decisions and amendments. He also accused the center of creating a divide between Hindus and Muslims of the valley.

The draft became public in December 2021. It showed that the commission did not consider their concerns or suggestions. The proposal includes only one seat for Kashmir and six more seats for Jammu.

This decision has angered the Kashmir political players. Omar Abdullah took to twitter to express his unacceptance of the draft recommendations. He said that the new distribution of assembly constituencies is not justifiable.

The president of PDP, Mehbooba Mufti, stated that the BJP conducted this whole exercise to serve its purpose.

Perhaps the elections will take place in Kashmir after five to six months from the submission of the commission’s report.    

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