The J&K Delimitation Commission has shared a fresh interim report with its associate members, including three Members of Parliament (MPs) of the National Conference (NC) and two BJP MPs, and has proposed redrawing of several assembly segments in Kashmir and one Lok Sabha seat, besides the allocation of six seats to the Jammu division and one to the Kashmir division. According to the NC MPs, none of the suggestions made in response to the earlier draft proposal, shared in December last year with the associate members, have been incorporated in the fresh interim proposal. They rejected the interim report, saying the recommendations were “unconstitutional”.
Srinagar seats recast
The Commission has proposed redrawing of five out of eight Assembly segments of the capital Srinagar. Under the new recommendations, the Habba Kadal Assembly segment, which had a sizable number of Kashmiri Pandit voters, has been split into three seats. Wide-scale merger and crearion of new constituencies in north Kashmir and central Kashmir’s Budgam has been proposed. The Kunzer area is likely to be a new Assembly segment, while Sangrama will be merged into other constituencies in north Kashmir. Rajouri and Poonch districts, which have a significant population of Hindus, will be a part of south Kashmir’s Anantnag parliamentary constituency, earlier dominated by Muslims. Several Assembly segments of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district have been merged with the Baramulla Parliamentary constituency in north Kashmir. Moreover, Pulwama, Tral and parts of Shopian of south Kashmir’s Anantnag parliamentary constituency have now been added to the Srinagar parliamentary constituency. Officials said the associate members have been asked to submit their objections by February 14, 2022. The Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Desai, was constituted under the J&K Reorganisation Act and its second term is coming to an end on March 6, 2022.
9 seats for STs
The Commission is likely to make the draft public, which adds six Assembly segments to the Jammu division and one to the Kashmir division, and open it up for responses and suggestions from the citizens of J&K. It has also earmarked nine seats for Schedule Tribes and seven seats for Schedule Castes. “Our recommendations have been thrown to the wind. The Commission has gone by their own will and wish,” said NC MP Hasnain Masoodi. He said all changes advocated by the panel as per their second draft proposal “are totally unconstitutional”. “We had made the Commission understand how this exercise was unconstitutional. All the important suggestions and recommendations have been completely ignored,” Mr. Masoodi said. The NC MP said there was discrimination in redrawing of constituencies. “The new seat sharing proposed by the panel is unjustified and unacceptable,” he added.
‘Ploy to disempower’
A Peoples Democratic Party spokesman said the entire exercise of the delimitation is a part of major ploy to disempower people of J&K by division of secular and majority votes. “It is unfortunate that all the constitutional apparatus was being put into action to achieve this sinister design of BJP,” the PDP said. J&K assembly seat strength is up from 83 to 90 now. The announcement to hold elections in J&K awaits the finalisation of the Delimitation Commission exercise.