Kashmir-based political parties reject Delimitation Commission’s proposal, say move aimed to benefit BJP

The Delimitation Commission set up in 2020 has proposed six additional seats for Jammu region and one for Kashmir valley. This would take the seats in Jammu to 43 and in Kashmir to 47

Farooq Abdullah and Masoodi arriving to attend the second meeting of the Delimitation Commission (IANS photo)
Farooq Abdullah and Masoodi arriving to attend the second meeting of the Delimitation Commission (IANS photo)
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Mudassir Kuloo

Putting up a united face, political parties based in Kashmir have strongly opposed the Delimitation Commission’s recommendations proposing six additional assembly seats for Jammu region and one for Kashmir valley, saying the move was aimed to benefit the BJP.

The three-member Delimitation Commission appointed in February 2020 is headed by former SC judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and has Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and Jammu and Kashmir Election Commissioner KK Sharma as ex-officio members.

The erstwhile state had 87 assembly seats and now has only 83 after the separation of Ladakh as a Union Territory which had 4 seats. The Kashmir valley has 46 seats while Jammu region has 37 seats.

On Monday, the Delimitation Commission proposed six additional seats for Jammu region and one for Kashmir valley. This would take the seats in Jammu to 43 and to 47 in Kashmir.

Reacting sharply, former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, “My apprehensions about the Delimitation Commission were not misplaced. They want to pitch people against each other by ignoring the population census and proposing 6 seats for one region and only one for Kashmir. This commission has been created simply to serve BJPs political interests by dividing people along religious and regional lines. The real game plan is to install a government in J&K which will legitimize the illegal and unconstitutional decisions of August 2019.”

National Conference vice-president and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “The draft recommendation of the J&K delimitation commission is unacceptable. The distribution of newly created assembly constituencies with 6 going to Jammu & only 1 to Kashmir is not justified by the data of the 2011 census.”

“It is deeply disappointing that the commission appears to have allowed the political agenda of the BJP to dictate its recommendations rather than the data which should have been its only consideration. Contrary to the promised “scientific approach” it’s a political approach,” the NC leader added.

Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief G A Mir said SCs and STs already had reserved seats and no one has any issue for giving them reserved seats. “But for delimitation as per rules, population is the first criteria. As per 2011 census, Jammu and Kashmir had 1.22 crore population. The Commission should have proposed seats based on population which means 1.22 lakh divided by 90 and then each constituency would have shared same population and there would have been no discrimination with any region or area. But what the Commission has proposed is faulty exercise and people will react sharply to it,” Mir said.

Former minister and Peoples Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone said the recommendations of the delimitation commission are totally unacceptable.

“They reek of bias. What a shock for those who believe in democracy,” Lone said.

Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari also reacted strongly to Commission’s proposal.

The party’s senior leader and former minister Usman Majeed said, “The universally accepted and nationally followed rule for delimitation for constituencies is population. Approximately half of the countries in the world use population for delimiting. The population and natural borders should be focused to create any new constituency,” Majeed said.

The Apni Party said that it rejects the proposal of the Delimitation Commission. “This is outrightly unacceptable to us. Apni Party demands a fair delimitation exercise without any bias, taking population and districts as the base. We strongly demand the GoI to intervene,” a spokesperson of the Apni Party said.

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