Delimitation panel continues discussions in Jammu-Kashmir
On the second day of its visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the Delimitation Commission on Wednesday met more than three dozen delegations of different political parties, civil society groups and government officials from south Kashmir’s four districts -- Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Anantnag. In the evening, the commission members also met delegations from central and north Kashmir districts – Baramulla, Kupwara, Budgam, Ganderbal and Bandipore.
After meeting 17 delegations in Srinagar on Tuesday, the commission members travelled to Pahalgam in Anantnag district on Wednesday and held meetings with delegations of several mainstream political parties -- including the National Conference (NC), Congress, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP), People’s Conference, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- and groups from various districts of the Union territory. The mainstream parties were represented by their district presidents and other senior leaders. They presented their suggestions and apprehensions about the delimitation process, people aware of the developments said.
“We presented them our point of view about delimitation process,” said Congress Pulwama district president Umar Jan soon after the meeting.
National Conference leader Altaf Kaloo, who headed the delegation, said they presented the memorandum to the Commission. “We briefed them about the stand of our party vis a vis delimitation.”
While the majority of the parties suggested that population should be the main criteria for reorganisation of constituencies, the People’s Conference and the CPI(M) demanded that the census figures of 2011 should be the benchmark for the exercise.
Other delegations that met the panel in Pahalgam included members of Social and Vikas Foudnation, Anantnag , Gujjar Ethiad, Pahari Culture and Welfare Forum, Sheikh-ul –Alam Turst, Gujjar and Bakerwal Conference and Sikh Welfare Society.
Former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai heads the commission that was constituted in March 2020 to redraw the Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland. The commission has nearly nine months left to complete the exercise. It will also carve constituencies to be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for the first time in Jammu & Kashmir.
The delimitation issue was discussed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with political leaders from Jammu & Kashmir on June 24. The Centre has sought the completion of the delimitation exercise before assembly polls are held there. However, People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a grouping of political major parties such as the National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said they were disappointed over the outcome of the meeting with Modi. The grouping has demanded the restoration of the region’s statehood before elections are held there. It also criticised the lack of “confidence-building measures”.
At the time of going to press, the commission members were holding meetings with delegations of political parties from north and central Kashmir districts at a hotel in Pahalgam.
Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP and Awami National Conference, both constituents of the PAGD, have decided not to meet the commission, with the former saying that there was a perception that the outcome of the process was pre-planned.
On Thursday, the commission will head to the Jammu division to meet delegations from Jammu, Poonch, Rajouri, Kathua, Udhampur, Samba and Reasi districts.