The Delimitation Commission set up to ‘redraw’ J&K’s assembly constituencies has completed its data collection process even as it has yet to visit the Union Territory to hold interaction with people here.
“The commission has completed data collection. However, it is preparing a framework to carve out assembly constituencies on the basis of the 2011 census,” officials said.
“The commission will increase the assembly seats. After completing its report, it will visit J&K to seek views of political parties and people (on it),” said BJP General Secretary (Organisation) Ashok Koul.
Koul said: “By the end of December, the commission may complete its exercise and submit report. The assembly seats will increase and some will be reserved for Scheduled Tribe in both the regions of J&K based on their population.” He hoped that assembly elections would be held thereafter.
Meanwhile, the Apni Party has demanded assembly elections in J&K as early as possible. “Elections should not be held hostage to the delimitation,” said a senior Apni Party leader.
“We are also analyzing the latest statistics and will not accept any arbitrary decision of the commission. At an appropriate time, we will file our own suggestions and objections, if required,” he said, adding that the party expected that the commission will work in a “more transparent” manner.
Opposition parties counter
The opposition parties in J&K have assailed the credibility of the data collection.
“Nothing is known about the delimitation commission on the ground. The commission may be doing some paperwork on its own, but it is not in the public domain,” said Congress Party’s Chief Spokesperson, Ravinder Sharma.
Sharma said that any such exercise should be conducted by taking into confidence the mainstream political parties of J&K. “We have constituted a committee headed by Peerzada Sayeed to monitor this issue,” he said.
He hoped that the delimitation would be conducted under rules and not “as per the wishes of a political party”.
National Conference, senior leader, Ali Mohammed Sagar said that an elected government in the legislative assembly of erstwhile J&K state had unanimously passed a bill providing that the delimitation shall happen in 2026. “The parameters were also set for next delimitation i.e. 2026 in the bill which was passed with the support of all the political parties of J&K. In that bill, it was mentioned that every region should get representation,” he added.
Sagar said: “The National Conference has disassociated itself from the delimitation process. However, we want that delimitation should be conducted with the participation of representatives of the people and people themselves.”
“To our knowledge, no process has started,” he said.
Ex-MLC and senior PDP leader Firdous Ahmed Tak said: “We strongly believe that the delimitation process is just another leaf from the book of the BJP and the RSS aimed at politically disempowering Muslims of Jammu region in particular.”
Tak said this was another “divisive agenda” of the BJP.
The constitution of the commission and process associated with it “is just to give legal and constitutional shape to the BJP’s plan of demographic change in J&K”.
He said they believe that whatever has happened post-August 5, 2019, “is anti-Jammu and Kashmir.”