The Delimitation Commission will arrive in Srinagar on a four-day visit today (July 6) to interact with political leaders, civil society groups and other stakeholders to gather first-hand inputs to carve out new constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said. The commission’s visit comes within a fortnight of the high-level meeting of eight political parties from Jammu and Kashmir with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on June 24. Barring the Congress and the BJP, all other major political parties including the National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the CPI(M) and the National Panthers Party (NPP) are indecisive about meeting the commission’s members.
People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of six parties including the NC and the PDP, on Monday (July 5) said no joint decision has been taken on taking part in the proceedings of the commission and it was left to the individual parties to decide whether they want to participate. “As far as the PAGD is concerned, our stand is that these are autonomous bodies and the respective political parties will decide about it (participating in commission’s meeting). Whatever the parties think is suitable for them, they will take steps accordingly,” PAGD spokesperson and CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said.
The commission has invited the leaders of all national, regional and registered political parties of Jammu and Kashmir for separate meetings during its visit to the union territory.
J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) has announced that it would send delegations to both Srinagar and Jammu to meet the commission, which was constituted in March last year with a one-year time frame. Seven districts of the Jammu region have been allotted one hour each while five districts of Kashmir half hour each, JKPCC chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said, adding that the commission should consider giving reasonable time and space to all.
The commission members are also likely to hold separate meetings with civil society groups and similar organisations after they obtain prior approval and are allotted time slots by their respective deputy commissioners (DCs).
During the June 24 meeting with 14 leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, PM 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 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.
Officials said the commission has asked JK chief electoral officer to ensure that representatives of each registered, national and regional political party are provided a separate time slot so that separate discussions can be held with each of them.
The commission will meet leaders of political parties in Srinagar on July 6 and in Jammu on July 8. The three-member commission, with the JK chief electoral officer being the third member, will also hold separate interactions with the DCs, the officials said.
Earlier, the Delimitation Commission had said in a statement that during its visit, it will interact with political parties, public representatives and union territory administration officials including district election officers/deputy commissioners of 20 districts to gather first-hand information and inputs concerning the ongoing process of delimitation as mandated under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
Once the delimitation exercise is completed, the number of assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir will go up from 83 to 90. Twenty-four seats of the assembly continue to remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).