Delimitation Panel Suggests Drastic Changes in Electoral Map; J&K Leaders Oppose
Mehbooba Mufti, Farooq Abdullah as well as other J&K leaders have decried the draft as unacceptable.
The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Delimitation Commission has proposed, in its second draft, to create seven new Assembly segments while redrawing the boundaries of the existing Assembly constituencies.
Six of the seats would be allotted in the Jammu region and one to the Kashmir division.
Major political leaders in J&K, such as Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP's) Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and People's Conference Party chairperson Sajjad Lone, have opposed the draft and claimed that the move was aimed to create a communal divide in the region.
The draft proposed to remove the existing 22 Assembly seats and create 29 new ones in J&K, as per The New Indian Express.
Eleven seats each from J&K are to be removed.
The commission has, as per The Indian Express, proposed changes in Baramulla, Kupwara, Srinagar, Kulgam, and Anantnag districts of the Kashmir division.
The Habba Kadal constituency, meanwhile, where many Kashmiri Pandits reside, is proposed to be split into three seats.
The draft has proposed a total of 17 new constituencies in Jammu and 12 in Kashmir region.
In Kashmir, one seat in Kulgam district is proposed to be removed while the new seat will be adjusted in Anantnag district. Kupwara is also allotted an additional seat.
Meanwhile, in the Baramulla district, two new constituencies of Kunzer and Tangmarg are slated to be created by splitting the Gulmarg seat and merging the Sangrama seat, as per The Indian Express.
Hindu-dominated Rajouri and Poonch districts are proposed to be made a part of the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency.
All seven seats proposed to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes will be reserved in the Jammu region.
With these changes, J&K will have a total of 90 Assembly seats. Jammu region will have a total of 43 seats and Kashmir will have a total of 47 seats. Another 24 seats will be reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
'Unacceptable and Unconstitutional': J&K Leaders
The draft report has been rejected by all Kashmir-based parties, including PDP, National Conference, Apni Party, and People’s Conference, calling the move “unconstitutional.”
PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said that the proposed changes are a reflection of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) furthering its agenda and aims to separate Hindus and Muslims, as per ANI.
“Delimitation Commission's draft is unacceptable to the party and the issue will be discussed in the coming meeting of PAGD on 23 February. The draft is a reflection of the BJP furthering its agenda, separating Hindus and Muslims, want to make it Godse's India.”
Srinagar Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu said the draft is “summarily rejected.”
He tweeted on Monday, “Draft by the Delimitation Commission is summarily rejected. It is an exercise without any basis in logic and rationality. It is not about what suits an individual or doesn’t suit an individual in a particular segment. It is a far bigger issue. Our stand is unambiguous on this.”
Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, who heads the Jammu Kashmir National Conference (NC), was quoted by PTI, on Saturday, as saying that the draft "defies any and all logic."
Abdullah, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar parliamentary seat, pointed out that the Assembly seats are not contiguous with the districts.
He said, "Like Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in South Kashmir will have six assembly seats from Rajouri and Poonch, which are part of Jammu division and located across Peerpanjal range. How is this inclined for providing better administration?"
The NC also said in a statement on Saturday that the party rejects the proposed drafts.
The party tweeted, "JKNC summarily REJECTS draft working paper made available by Delimitation Commission to associate members on February 4th, 2022. (sic)"
Apni Party State Coordinator Madan Lal Chalotra on Monday blamed BJP for the "politically motivated and biased" draft report and said that the draft will create a division in society.
The party had said in a separate tweet on Saturday: "The delimitation process is unfair and unscientific."
Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference Party (JKPC) chairperson Sajjad Lone, who is also an ex-Member of J&K Legislative Assembly, said on Sunday said that the delimitation draft report seems to be an exercise in disruption, as per IANS report.
J&K BJP's demand for Delimitation
The J&K BJP has been raising the demand for delimitation in the state since the 2008 Amarnath land row.
According to the state BJP, the aim of this exercise is to correct the alleged inequity and regional disparity in Jammu, with the region getting a larger share of seats in the 87-member state Assembly.
However, the apex court in 2010 upheld the freeze imposed by the J&K government till 2026 and dismissed the plea that it violated the "basic structure" of the state constitution.
Major political parties in J&K, including the PDP and JKNC, have, however, been vehemently opposed to any possibility of delimitation to be carried out.
In order to carry out the exercise in J&K in the aftermath of its special status revocation, a Delimitation Commission was set up on 6 March 2020.
The commission held a meeting in February the same year. At the meeting, the two BJP leaders suggested that population should not be the only factor considered for the delimitation process, but also the geographical considerations for Jammu.
(With inputs from The New Indian Express, Indian Express, ANI and IANS.)
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