By Arun Joshi
Much hyped Delimitation Commission for J&K will be undertaking its first-ever visit to the Union Territory ever since its constitution 15 months ago in an apparent bid to speed up the process of the delineation of the constituencies for the Assembly elections .
The Commission , constituted in March 2020, will start its visit on July 6 and conclude it on July 9 . During the visit it will meet all the political parties across J&K as also the district election authorities and members of civil society to ascertain their views on the ongoing delimitation process. The Delimitation Commission headed by retired justice of Supreme Court Ranjana Prakash Desai will visit different places of the UT of J&K to have fair idea of the area, topography ,m density of the population to document its report where exactly the need for increasing the constituencies in J&K exists.
The All-Party-Meeting of eight parties and their leaders held in New Delhi on June 24 had focused mostly on the delimitation commission and how to expedite its work so that the next step of holding Assembly elections be taken thereafter in quick succession . Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to all the parties to cooperate with the Delimitation Commission so that the democratic process could be taken to its logical conclusion.
Although Panchayat, Block Development Council and District Development Council polls have been held before and after the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories of Ladakh , and truncated Jammu and Kashmir.
The visit of the Delimitation Commission to J&K and to interact with the political parties and leaders is at variance with its original constitution and mandate . It had three members of the Commission and five associate members – all the five MPs from J&K UT, but National Conference that has three members in Lok Sabha had said no to the joining of the Commission , saying that it was an “ illegally constituted body” for it had come into being after the abrogation of Article 370 and degradation of the status of J&K from a state to UT. But, now it has softened its stand and is reported to be willing to join the Commission’s deliberations . Other parties, too, are inclined to take part in the deliberations .
Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari said that “ Our party believes in furthering the democracy in Jammu and Kashmir , we will take part in the Delimitation Commission.” There is view among other parties as well that it would be losing an opportunity if they stay away from the deliberations of the Commission . “ We don’t want to give walk over to any one”, Bukhari said and added that this message must go down well with other groups . “ Democracy is a joint venture, let’s be part of it.”
This has stirred the hope that Kashmir that had apprehensions about the Delimitation Commission as it was mandated to increase seats for Jammu region. This , they felt was pandering to the whims and fancies of the people of Jammu’s plains who , by nature, were pro-BJP.
The Commission has been asked to enhance the seats of the Assembly from 107 to 114. Effectively there were 87 elected representatives in the House- four of them from Ladakh , which is now a separate UT and has no claim for representation in the J&K;s Assembly . Of the new 114 seats, 90 would be for the existing J&K with India , and the rest of 24 for the residents of Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir. This is to maintain that POJK is part of Jammu and Kashmir.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with the www.prameyanews.com