The Delimitation Commission submitting its final report on Jammu and Kashmir has evoked sharp reaction from National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and other smaller parties in Kashmir.
These parties have been “beating their chest” after the panel has redrawn the assembly and parliamentary constituencies in the Union Territory.
The commission has recommended 43 assembly constituencies for Jammu region and 47 for Kashmir. For the first time, nine assembly constituencies have been reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, out of which, six are in Jammu region and three in Kashmir.
The six new assembly constituencies in the Jammu region are expected to be carved out from Rajouri, Doda, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Kathua, and Samba districts.
The one new seat for Kashmir would be carved out from the Kupwara district. The Kashmir based parties are unhappy. Anyway, It is nothing new. These political formations, especially NC and PDP, have developed a habit of opposing every move which is aimed at making J&K self-reliant. It seems that the National Conference has forgotten the past and needs a reminder.
The NC in the 1980s had demolished the constituencies of Awami Action Committee (AAC) headed by late Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq, who was killed by militants in 1990 at his Nigeen residence in Srinagar. In the 1980s the delimitation process had torn apart AAC bastions.
It’s strange that today the same National Conference is questioning the credibility of the Delimitation Commission that was headed by Justice (retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai and comprised two other members, Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner; and KK Sharma, State Election Commissioner.
The leaders who are questioning credibility of the commission need to sit back and ask themselves whether they have any credibility left? When they were arrested after August 5, 2019, not a single protest was held in any part of Jammu and Kashmir against their detention and no one demanded their release.
The Delimitation Commission that was set up in February-March 2020 to redraw assembly and parliamentary constituencies in J&K after its division into two Union Territories, J&K and Ladakh, has done its job meticulously. The ones who are unhappy have a reason to be so as they are aware that grabbing power won’t be easy for them in times to come.
During the past 70-years, Kashmir based parties ruled J&K and the National Conference remained in power for many decades. After the Peoples Democratic Party appeared on the scene in 2000, it challenged NC’s hegemony and went on to form the government in 2002 with the support of Congress. PDP had just won 16 out of 83 assembly seats.
From 2002 to 2018 power kept on shifting between the NC and PDP. Now, the political equation has changed and all the political parties, including the ones in Jammu have been empowered. This has perturbed the NC and PDP. The bête-noire have come together and have dropped enough hints about contesting the forthcoming assembly elections jointly.
Leaders of both these parties are aware that none of the national parties will support them as their past is an ample proof of the fact that these formations keep on changing their colours like chameleons. NC and PDP rather than questioning the credibility of the Delimitation Commission should focus on regaining their grounds.
These parties have been left with nothing to sell, neither autonomy, nor self-rule. People haven’t responded to any of the slogans raised by these parties after the abrogation of Article 370.
The experiment of forming Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has ended up in a fiasco as people of J&K rejected the alliance of Kashmir based political parties by terming it as “one more drama.”
The attempts of NC and PDP leaders to “sell old wine in new bottle” haven’t yielded any results. Both these parties are at crossroads and are unable to digest that for the first time in so many years they are about to face stiff competition, which can turn these parties into a history.
After August 5, 2019 NC and PDP leaders are trying to project themselves as “Messiahs” (saviours) of people but a common man seems least interested in their stunts. These parties should accept that assembly and parliamentary constituencies have been redrawn and J&K’s status-quo has changed.
Both these parties haven’t been left with any constituency as they have lost support of the people. The leaders of these parties should stop throwing tantrums and allow people of J&K to taste the real fruits of democracy.
Sheikh Khalid Jehangir is a Journalist and Secretary General of International Centre for Peace Studies ( ICPS )
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.