Jammu and Kashmir: Delimitation to begin soon after assuming new status

Updated: Sep 16, 2019, 14:15 IST | IANS | Srinagar

Bifurcation of the state into the two Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir becomes effective on October 31

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Srinagar: Fresh delimitation of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir is right now the top priority of the central government so that elections are held in the Union Territory as soon as possible. Once completed, the proposed delimitation process is expected to bring the Jammu region almost at par with the Kashmir Valley, so far as the number of Assembly seats are concerned. BJP in June last year pulled out of the coalition with PDP. Since then, Jammu and Kashmir has remained under the central rule.

Bifurcation of the state into the two Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir becomes effective on October 31. Without losing any further time, the Centre has decided to ensure that the Assembly elections in the newly carved out Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory are to be held on time, top sources said. "Fresh delimitation of the Assembly constituencies would be completed by the Election Commission (EC) before the Assembly elections are held."

"A number of meetings have already been held in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to hasten the process. The first step would be a formal communication from the MHA to the EC requesting for the delimitation process to be held. This communication is likely to be flashed by the first week of November this year." sources said. After the EC receives the mandatory communication, it will declare schedule and constitute sub-committees to hold the delimitation process, EC sources said.

The same sources added that the delimitation process would be completed in nine to ten phases spread over 14 months. In layman's term, this means the next Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be held some time in the first or second quarter of 2021. Unless the fresh delimitation process is held, given the present composition of the state Assembly, Jammu and Kashmir Union territory would have 83 Assembly seats -- 46 in the Valley and 37 in the Jammu region. Top sources said the delimitation process will address the grievance of the Jammu region which is likely to get seven additional Assembly seats after the process is completed.

"There is also the likelihood of the declaration of some seats as reserved for tribal Gujjars, Paharis, Kashmiri migrant Hindus and West Pakistan settlers in addition to the Scheduled Caste reservation." "This will definitely tilt the electoral balance in favour of the Jammu region which would get 44 Assembly seats in addition to retaining its political influence among the tribals and the Kashmiri Hindus," said a senior BJP leader.

With the mainstream political camp of the Valley remaining divided as it is between the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, People's Conference, Congress and some independents, the BJP is poised to emerge as the largest political party in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections in 2021 given its predominant influence in the Jammu region.

"This will fulfill the dream of a Hindu Chief Minister belonging to the Jammu region, who will ensure that all developmental activities and administrative attention are equally shared by the two regions of the Union Territory," said the BJP leader.

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