Delimitation Commission member and Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar held a virtual meeting with all 20 deputy commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing a meeting with political leaders of the Union Territory in New Delhi, reports said on June 24.
In the meeting held on June 23, the officials discussed boundaries of the existing assembly constituencies, intersections of these constituencies with neighboring districts, and difficulties faced in redrawing boundaries, a step in the ongoing delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir.
READ: Explained | Delimitation in J&K: Here’s all you need to know about the exercise
Officials said that the meeting was held in two shifts in which Kumar took note of administrative and topographic issues faced by the officials in the districts, according to local newspapers.
The meeting assumes significance as it comes a day of PM Modi’s meeting with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir. While there has been no official word on the agenda of the meeting, reports have suggested that the Prime Minister is expected to urge leaders to cooperate with the Delimitation Commission and set the electoral process in motion, in the meeting scheduled at 3 PM at the Prime Minister’s official residence, 7 Kalyan Marg, New Delhi.
The meeting might as well pave way for holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, ending the Central rule imposed in June 2018. Assembly elections cannot be held unless the delimitation exercise is finished.
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The January 23 meeting by the Delimitation Commission member is first such exercise since the Commission was set up in March 2020, six months after the abrogation of Article 370 of Jammu and Kashmir.
Centre had extended the tenure of the commission by one year after it completed of a one-year term of the Delimitation Commission on March 5, 2021.
The Commission headed by Justice (Retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai had held a meeting with five Associate Members – the Lok Sabha MPs from Jammu and Kashmir – in February this year.
Before the erstwhile state was bifurcated into two Union Territories, the effective strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was 87, including four seats from Ladakh, which is now a separate Union Territory without a legislature. Today, the strength of the realigned Jammu and Kashmir Assembly stands at 107, including 24 seats vacant for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Also, read: New J&K UT to have 7 more Assembly seats after delimitation
So after delimitation, the effective strength of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly will be 90 seats.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under Centre’s rule since June 19, 2018, following the collapse of the coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti after the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew its support.