Among those invited were Kashmir’s former three top elected officials: Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti, who was a regional coalition partner of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party for nearly two years after the 2016 state elections. (Image: AP
All political parties of Jammu and Kashmir, except Mehbooba Mufi-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP), will participate in discussions with members of the Delimitation Commission during its visit to the Union Territory (UT) beginning July 6.
The Commission, led by Justice (Retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra, and Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan as its members, is landing in Srinagar on July 6 for a four-day visit to the UT to interact with political parties, administration officials and public representatives about redrawing of boundaries of Assembly constituencies.
The visit comes less than two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met 14 leaders from Jammu and Kashmir on June 24.
On its first day of the visit, the Commission will hold deliberations with the representatives of political leaders between 3:30 pm and 6:50 pm at Grand Lalit hotel in Srinagar. Each political party has been allotted a 20-minute time slot to put forth its views about the ongoing process of delimitation.
The Commission will be in Kashmir Valley on July 6 and 7 and head to Jammu on July 8 before flying back to Delhi on July 9.
The National Conference (NC), led by former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, has nominated five representatives and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) four leaders for the meeting with the panel.
Likewise, the Congress has nominated six representatives for the meeting, Sajad Lone-led Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference four leaders as their representatives while J&K Apni Party has nominated five leaders for the meeting.
But, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP has not nominated any member for the meeting with the Commission. The party is likely to skip the meeting, sources said.
The People’s Alliances for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of five regional political parties of J&K, including the NC and the PDP), had left it to individual parties to decide on whether or not to meet the commission.
The Delimitation Commission was constituted in March 2020, six months after the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. In March 2021, the panel was given a one-year extension to complete its work.
The Delimitation exercise paves the way for holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been under Central rule since June 2018.
Before the erstwhile state was bifurcated into two UTs in August 2019, the effective strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was 87, including four seats from Ladakh, which is now a separate UT without a legislature.
As of today, the strength of the realigned Jammu and Kashmir Assembly stands at 83. If the 24 vacant seats from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) are included, the total number of assembly seats in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly stands at 107.
At the all-party meeting on June 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Home Minister Amit Shah, urged leaders from J&K to cooperate with the Delimitation Commission and set the electoral process in motion.
The Union Territory is expected to get seven more assembly seats after delimitation, taking the total number of seats to 114. So, post the 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. Source