Polls to be held in J&K after delimitation exercise: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Saturday that elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir after a delimitation process in the Union Territory was over, while touching upon the nullification of Article 370 in his Independence Day address from the Red Fort.
The Prime Minister said it had been a year since the government’s move to nullify Article 370, which accorded special status to the erstwhile state. “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 giving dignity to the lives of our refugee brethren,” Modi said.
He also referred to the “Back to Villages” initiative of the administration of the Union Territory and said it ensured that development reached the villages and the poor. Under this scheme, 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 J&K 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 the chairperson of the Delimitation Commission in March.
The delimitation exercise will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019 that split the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir with an assembly and Ladakh without an assembly. Delimitation will be based on the Census of 2011 due to an amendment in the J&K Reorganisation Act.
The number of assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir after delimitation will increase from 107 to 114, including 24 seats for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, according to news agency PTI.
Before Jammu and Kashmir was reorganised, there were 46 assembly seats in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh, PTO reported. After delimitation, Jammu is likely to gain five seats and Kashmir two.
By making Ladakh a Union Territory “we have fulfilled their aspirations and a much delayed demand”, Modi said.
Ladakh, situated in the heights of the Himalayas, is moving towards the peak of development, Modi added. “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 regions 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.
J&K did come up in Modi’s speech last year as well. “Within 70 days of the new government, we removed Article 370 which was not done in last 70 years,” he said back then, referring to the government’s August 5 move.