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In PDP's Absence, NC And Congress Talk Tough With Delimitation Commission

Both NC and Congress asked the Delimitation Commission why Jammu and Kashmir had been singled out for the exercise when delimitation of the constituencies had been ceased up to 2016 in the country.

In PDP's Absence, NC And Congress Talk Tough With Delimitation Commission
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah | PTI/File Photo
In PDP's Absence, NC And Congress Talk Tough With Delimitation Commission
outlookindia.com
2021-07-08T09:10:45+05:30

As the delimitation commission ended its meetings with political parties in Kashmir on Wednesday evening, two major political parties National Conference and Congress party doubted the whole exercise and raised the issue of “illegal and unconstitutional abrogation of Article 370,” by the BJP government during their meetings with the Commission.

Both the NC and Congress asked the Delimitation Commission why Jammu and Kashmir had been singled out for the exercise when delimitation of the constituencies had been ceased up to 2016 in the country. They told the Commission that there is mistrust of the institutions in J&K and they should act in a fair and transparent manner. The CPI(M) also used the same language with the Commission, asking it to act in a fair manner.

The PDP didn’t meet the Delimitation Commission here saying the Centre did not initiate any steps to ease the lives of the people and the outcome of the delimitation exercise was “widely believed” to be “pre-planned". The Commission will be hearing political parties in Jammu on Thursday and Friday.

The Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra Sharma and State Election Commissioner (SEC) KK Sharma, met political leaders on July 6 and July 7 in Kashmir. The Commission will be in Jammu on July 8 for two days.

The political parties have been expressing fear that the Delimitation Commission will act against the Muslim majority of J&K and convert into a political minority through gerrymandering of Muslim majority constituencies in Jammu, giving more seats to Jammu and reserving seats for special categories.

In its presentation before the Delimitation Commission, senior NC leader Nasir Aslam Wani, Shamima Firdous and Abdul Rahim Rather said the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019 is “unconstitutional and was enacted in disregard and violation of mandate and the spirit of the constitution of India and therefore not to be acted upon.”

“We have thrown a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019. And Supreme Court has been pleased to refer the petitions to the constitutional bench (five-judge) of the Court for consideration and to examine the constitutional validity of the Act,” the NC told the Commission.

However, the NC said despite its basic reservations on the issue, the commission has decided to go ahead with the delimitation process. “While reiterating our stand and without prejudice to the submissions made above, we request you and other members of the Commission to carry out the delimitation exercise in a free, fair and transparent manner so that the unity and integrity of the state is safeguarded. The population has to be the only norm as has been the practice here in the past in J&K and elsewhere in the country,” the NC leaders said.

The Congress party’s president in J&K G A Mir after meeting the Commission said the delimitation commission exercise has created doubts among people. He said the country would be witnessing delimitation in 2026 but in J&K, different yardsticks are being used. Mir said they told the Commission that they should act transparently. He said he told the Commission that they have been working for the past one and half years and people are yet to see any draft from them.

“We can only make our view once you show us your draft,” Mir told the Commission. He said he told the Commission that they might have prepared a draft after consulting the administration and they should send it to the political parties for suggestions.

At the same time, Group of Concerned Citizens headed by former foreign secretary Yashwant Sinha presented a memorandum to the Delimitation commission from the Group of Concerned citizens, J&K, saying for the purposes of “delimitation” reference to the population is to be construed as population determined by the 2011 Census. “Population of the erstwhile state, as per Census 2011, was 1,25,41,302. This would come down to 1,22,67,013 with the exclusion of the population of Ladakh (2,74,289). Article 170(2) of the Constitution of India governing the ‘delimitation’ provides that “each State shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such a manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the State.”

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