Elections in J&K after delimitation: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that elections would be held in Jammu and Kashmir as soon as the delimitation process in the union territory gets over.

In his Independence Day address to the nation, the prime minister, who spoke on development in various parts of the country, noted that it has been a year since Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh got independence from Article 370.

“This one year has been a very important milestone for the new development journey of these regions as it gave women and dalits of this region their basic rights besides dignity to the lives of our refugee brethren,” Modi said.

He also referred to the ‘Back to Villages’ initiative of the union territory administration and said it ensured the fruits of developments reach the villages and the poor. Under this scheme, all bureaucrats spent time in villages to address the problems of the people.

“I thank the panches and sarpanches from the core of my heart for their active participation in this development journey,” Modi said.

The strength and real power of democracy lies in elected local bodies, Modi said. It is a matter of pride that the public representatives of these local bodies are taking forward the development process in Jammu and Kashmir with their active participation and concern, he added.

“The delimitation exercise is going on in Jammu and Kashmir under the chairmanship of a retired Supreme Court judge. As soon as the delimitation process is over, there will be elections in the future so that the union territory has its own government, which will undertake development work with renewed vigour,” Modi said.

The process of delimitation of Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in the union territory was set in motion with the appointment of former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai as chairperson of the Delimitation Commission in March this year.

The delimitation exercise will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the JK Reorganisation Act of 2019 that split the state into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir with an assembly and Ladakh without an assembly.

Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir will be based on the Census of 2011 due to an amendment in the JK Reorganisation Act. The number of assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir after delimitation will increase from 107 to 114, including 24 seats for Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Before Jammu and Kashmir was reorganised, there were 46 assembly seats in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh. After delimitation, Jammu is likely to gain five seats and Kashmir two.

During the last one year, Modi said, the Ayushman Bharat scheme has been wonderfully used in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

By making Ladakh a union territory “we have fulfilled their aspirations and a much delayed demand”, he said.

Ladakh, situated in the heights of the Himalayas, is moving towards the peak of development, Modi said. “A central university is coming up, research centres are being made, hotel management courses are running there. The plan is on to build a 7,500 MW solar park.”

“Ladakh has a lot of qualities and we have to polish and preserve them. As Sikkim has an identity as an organic state in the northeast, the region of Leh, Ladakh and Kargil can make its identity as a carbon neutral unit. For this, the government is working with local citizens to create a sample model…,” he said.