The Delimitation Commission is scheduled to begin its four-day visit from Tuesday to Jammu and Kashmir, where it will meet political leaders, district officials and other stakeholders to gather information on the process of redrawing boundaries of electoral constituencies.
About the Delimitation Commission
- Who is a part of the commission? The delimitation commission is headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra Sharma and State Election Commissioner (SEC) KK Sharma. In the absence of the Legislative Assembly, National Conference and BJP Lok Sabha members were nominated as associate members of the Delimitation Commission but did not have any voting rights.
- What is the commission’s schedule? The commission will meet Kashmir’s political leaders on 6 and 7 July. The members will meet officials of the four districts of South Kashmir - Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian. On Wednesday, meeting with deputy commissioners will be held in Pahalgam, while on 8 and 9 July, the commission will meet political leaders and deputy commissioners of Jammu.
- When was it formed? The commission was formed on 6 March last year for a period of one year. As members could not visit Jammu and Kashmir within this period, the Centre extended its term for another year till 5 March, 2022.
- What basis will be used for redrawing constituencies? There will be four basic tenets for the delimiting constituencies - physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and public convenience, sources told News18.
- Which parties are meeting the panel? A five-member National Conference team, comprising Abdul Raheem Rather, Mohammad Shafi, Mian Altaf Ahmad, Nasir Aslam Wani and Sakina Ittoo, will meet the panel. From Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference, four party leaders have been nominated, while the BJP will send four leaders, Altaf Bukhari’s J&K Apni party prepared a list of five leaders and the Congress named six leaders to meet the visiting commission in Srinagar. Leaders of the BSP, CPI and CPM will also meet the panel.
- Which party may not meet the panel? However, the PDP had not nominated any leader yet, according to The Hindu.
- How much time will the parties be allotted? The commission has allotted 20 minutes to each party to put forth their views about the delimitation process in Jammu and Kashmir. The NC has been given a time slot of 5.10 pm to 5.30 pm, according to PTI.
- Which states saw the Delimitation Commission redrawing its constituencies? The panel was also set up last year to demarcate the new boundaries of electoral constituencies in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
The NC had boycotted the commission, saying it had challenged the J&K Reorganisation Act before the court, but changed its decision following an all-party meet organised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 June. The People’s Alliance of Gupkar Declaration has called for the restoration of statehood after the delimitation process.
How will delimitation be carried out?
The Delimitation Commission was constituted under Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, according to which the seats in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will be increased from 107 to 114, including 24 seats which are reserved for Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) while the election will be held for 90 seats.
Before the change in status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, the erstwhile state had 111 seats, including 24 reserved for PoK, and elections were held for 87 seats. In the previous Assembly, Kashmir had 46 seats, Jammu 37, and Ladakh four. After Ladakh was made a union territory, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was left with 83 seats.
Why has the delimitation timeline gained significance?
During a meeting 14 leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, Modi had said the delimitation exercise has to happen quickly so that polls can be held to install an elected government in the Union Territory that will give strength to its development trajectory. The process of delimitation is expected to be completed by March next year.
The delimitation, therefore, has attained an urgency amid indications that the Centre is keen to hold early assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. There is speculation that the polls could be held in the next six to nine months.
When was delimitation last carried out in Jammu and Kashmir?
Delimitation was last held in 1994 when President’s Rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. Seats of the erstwhile state Assembly were raised from 76 to 87, with Jammu region’s seats being raised from 32 to 37, Kashmir’s from 42 to 46, and Ladakh’s from two to four.
What did the BJP say?
Senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said the Centre never believed in imposing its ideology forcefully and through deceit. “Those raising fingers against BJP government for misusing the commission for party’s benefit must be feeling guilty conscious as they used to do the same during their regimes in the country,” Gupta said.