Delimitation Commission’s proposal of 6 new seats for Jammu but just 1 for Kashmir stirs a political row
Jammu & Kashmir – A fresh political row has been triggered after Delimitation Commission’s draft paper has proposed six additional Assembly seats for Jammu but only one in Kashmir Valley. This move has left the local parties flabbergasted, who have described the move as an attempt to tilt the power balance towards Jammu.
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has slammed the Delimitation Commission. She said, “This commission has been created simply to serve BJPs political interests by dividing people along religious & regional lines.”
“The recommendations of the delimitation commission are totally unacceptable. They reek of bias. What a shock for those who believe in democracy,” Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone said in a tweet.
Delimitation Commission is an independent body that is assigned with the task of redrawing the boundaries of an assembly or Lok Sabha constituency to show changes in the population of a region. Political or executive parties cannot interfere with the functioning of the commission that is headed by a retired judge of Supreme Court, and also includes Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner and state election commissioners.
As per the commission’s mandate, the delimitation process is based on the 2011 census and population as the basis of ‘redrawing’ assembly seats. According to the 2011 census, Kashmir has a 15 lakh more population than Jammu, which is 68.8 lakh vs 53.5 lakh. In the former state assembly, Jammu province had 37 seats, Kashmir had 46 seats, and Ladakh had 4 seats. Now with the draft proposal of the commission, Kashmir will have 47 seats and Jammu has 43 seats. The last redrawing in Jammu and Kashmir was in 1995 and was based on the census in 1981. In 1991 there was no census in the state. After the 2001 census, the J&K assembly passed a law that had put a hold on delimitation till 2026.
Five Members of Parliament (MPs) are associate members of the commission but are not binding to it. An earlier meeting of the Delimitation Commission that was held in February was boycotted by three National Conference MPs, including Farooq Abdullah.
Out of the seven additional Assembly constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, one each has been proposed in the districts of Kathua, Samba, Rajouri, Reasi, Doda, and Kishtwar in Jammu division, and Kupwara in the Kashmir valley. The Commission said in a statement that it has “proposed carving out an additional constituency in some districts to balance the representation for geographical areas with inadequate communication and lack of public conveniences given their excessive remoteness or inhospitable conditions on the international border.”