To expedite the process of redrawing parliament and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, the Delimitation Commission on Wednesday announced to visit the Union Territory from July 6 to July 9 to get first-hand information from the grassroots.
During a three-day-long stay in J&K, members of the panel will interact with all stakeholders including political parties, officers, and public representatives.
The decision of the Delimitation Commission to visit J&K is important follow-up development of the all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 24 with leaders of different political parties of the UT.
Prime Minister’s promise to accelerate delimitation process
During the all-party meeting held on June 24, Prime Minister had promised to speed up the delimitation process so as to hold assembly elections in J&K.
“Our priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy in J&K. Delimitation has to happen at a quick pace so that polls can happen and J&K gets an elected Government that gives strength to J&K’s development trajectory”, the Prime Minister had stated after the all-party meeting.
The delimitation exercise is likely to be geared up as there are reports that the Centre is keen to hold early assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Internal meeting of Panel held in Delhi
A meeting of the Delimitation Commission, under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai, was held on Wednesday in New Delhi. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra was also present in the meeting in which it was decided to visit J&K.
“During the visit, the Commission will interact with political parties, public representatives, and UT administration officials including District Election Officers/Deputy Commissioners of all 20 districts of the Union Territory to gather first-hand information and input concerning the ongoing process of the delimitation as mandated under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019,” stated an official handout of the panel.
To redraw parliament, assembly constituencies
The Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Ranjana Prakash Desai was constituted by the Centre on March 6, 2020, to redraw Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of the Union Territory in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which bifurcated the erstwhile state into union territories of J&K and Ladakh.
The elections to the Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be held only after the process of delimitation is completed.
Panel gathered information from all DCs
Delimitation Commission on June 23 held consultations with all Deputy Commissioners of J&K on restructuring the existing assembly constituencies and carving out seven new seats. In the virtual meeting, inputs were gathered on how to make the assembly seats more geographically compact.
Some assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir have to be reserved, first time, for the Scheduled Tribes as part of the delimitation exercise. After the delimitation exercise, 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 in Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK).
Delimitation panel’s first meeting boycotted
After its constitution, the first meeting of the Delimitation Commission was held on February 18 this year but the same was boycotted by the principal opposition party National Conference. The meeting was held to seek suggestions/views on the process of delimitation in respect of the union territory.