Jammu: Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra on Thursday stated that the delimitation was not a mathematical exercise.
He stated that the Commission visited the J&K to ascertain the ground realities of the Union Territory.
The CEC was briefing the media about the delimitation exercise, before taking its questions in the interaction, while winding up the Commission’s 4-day visit to J&K.
“...It is not a mathematical exercise. It is to know the genuine concerns of the public, their difficulties...and resolve them in this delimitation because it (delimitation) is being done after almost 26 years. Though the population is to be the main criterion for the delimitation, but the attention must be given to the geographical compactness, topographical difficulties, communication challenges and the public inconvenience,” CEC explained the process.
He informed that in Srinagar and Jammu, the Commission had meetings till 10.30 pm because of overwhelming response from various organisations. The Commission met more than 290 groups of the people including the recognized political parties, registered parties, local bodies, civil society.
These 290 groups consisted of more than 800 persons, he said.
“During these three days, the Commission heard all the stakeholders in person. That shows the overall response of the stakeholders in this exercise. They were quite happy to participate in the Delimitation process. First time the people from the ground have been given an opportunity to put forward their views in the delimitation. Many persons had travelled quite a long distance to present their representations, particularly in Kishtwar,” the CEC said.
He stated that in administering assembly constituencies, a large number of administrative overlapping was there which puts people to inconvenience.
“If one constituency has two districts, then the persons are at a difficulty to reach to the MLAs for their day to day work. Tribals for the first time got an opportunity to air their issues. So they really felt that it was a welcome step and they also came out with a lot of views as to how this ST reservation is to be done. Difficult terrain in some districts was not acknowledged in the earlier delimitations. There are many persons living in the difficult terrains or areas and they informed the Commission that their problems and issues were not acknowledged by the earlier Commission,” he said.
According to CEC, this was also requested by various groups which had come from different topography and geographical locations. Some groups demanded reservation for specific communities and groups also.
He said that taking all these demands and representations of persons into account, a draft would be prepared.
“A draft of delimitation will be prepared. The views of the Associate members, who are part of the Commission, will also be taken before the draft is made public. Thereafter the draft recommendations will be put in public domain for comments. After taking into account all those comments, concerns, a final draft will be prepared. So the opportunity will be given to the public at large to lodge their objections again vis-a-vis the draft. So the purpose of the Commission is to take view of all stakeholders in this particular exercise,” he maintained.
He said that the Commission also had a meeting with the Chief Secretary of the UT this morning. “We’ve directed him to nominate one officer not below the rank of the ADC to work as a nodal officer for the work of the delimitation under the supervision of a DC. So if a person requires to give some suggestion or information on delimitation even now, can submit his representation to the nodal officer to be communicated to the Delimitation Commission for its consideration by the time it finalises its draft. They can also send their suggestion directly to the Delimitation Commission. The Commission will definitely examine all those representations submitted to it. Despite the pandemic, our work gathered pace with the support of all people of J&K. We’re sure to complete the delimitation process in a fair, transparent and judicious manner,” the CEC said.
He also thanked the media for dissemination of information to the people at large and constant support in this exercise.
Justice (retired) Ranjana P Desai stated that it was a privilege to be part of this historic exercise of delimitation.
“As part of Delimitation Commission, we are really overwhelmed by the participation of stakeholders in the large numbers who provided qualitative inputs during our interactions, We’re here for about three days and now we’ve interacted with them and we’ve taken note of their suggestions, their views and we’ll definitely consider their all representations...as well as whatever they expressed to us. As you know that delimitation is a constitutionally mandated exercise and we collectively have been tasked with this onerous work which we are confident of completing after following the due process as laid down in the law,” she said in her opening remarks.
“This is our first visit to the UT and I assure you that it is not our last. We’ll have to come again to interact with many more people. This process of consultations is a complex exercise and this Commission will take all necessary steps to continue this engagement. (On) This occasion let me place it on record the support and assistance extended by the UT administration and all the concerned officers in making this visit successful. We acknowledge the active participation of all the political parties at Srinagar, Jammu, Anantnag and Kishtwar where we went, all the DEOs and their teams and all the officers/officials who facilitated this exercise. As usual the media has been a great support in creating a conducive environment for this process. The Chief Electoral Officer of the UT put everything in place for this visit,” she averred.
She said in the four days, the Commission not only visited four different locations but also offered the opportunities to the various sections of the society besides Local Bodies representatives, NGOs, the civil society organisations, recognised and unrecognized political parties.