SRINAGAR: Various Kashmir-centric political parties have termed as “totally unacceptable” the draft recommendations of the Delimitation Commission, proposing six additional Assembly seats for Jammu region and one for the Kashmir Valley while reserving nine constituencies for Scheduled Castes and seven for Scheduled Tribes.
Soon after a meeting of the commission with its associate members from two major mainstream parties National Conference (NC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in New Delhi earlier during the day on Monday, former chief minister Omar Abdullah took to micro-blogging site Twitter to allege that the commission was allowing the “political agenda of the BJP to dictate its recommendations”.
He said, “It is deeply disappointing that the commission appears to have allowed the political agenda of the BJP to dictate its recommendations rather than the data which should have been it’s only consideration. Contrary to the promised ‘scientific approach’ it’s a political approach.”
In another tweet, he said, “The draft recommendation of the J&K Delimitation Commission is unacceptable. The distribution of newly created Assembly constituencies with six going to Jammu and only one to Kashmir is not justified by the data of the 2011 census.”
Earlier NC Member Parliament who along with its present Farooq Abdullah, also an MP, attended Monday’s meeting had said that they were shown a draft proposing six additional seats for Jammu and one for the Kashmir Valley which is totally unacceptable as it is disproportionate as per the 2011 census.
However, Union minister of state and BJP leader Jitendra Singh who was also part of the deliberation while asserting that the document the commission has come out with is “objectively prepared” claimed that the NC members were also satisfied with the parameters followed by it. He said, “The Delimitation Commission has come out with a document that is objectively prepared. All associated members regardless of parties appreciated work done by it. The NC members were also satisfied by parameters followed by the Commission,” he said.
But NC spokesman Imran Nabi Dar termed it an “absolute lie”. He told reporters here that there was no truth to what Mr. Singh was saying. “Contrary to what is being shared by BJP and its cronies in Kashmir, JKNC MPs have expressed complete resentment on the Delimitation Commission draft on seat sharing,” he said. He added, “Its draft recommendations, a reek of brazen discrimination, is totally unacceptable. The distribution of newly created Assembly constituencies with six going to Jammu and only one to Kashmir is not justified by the data of the 2011 census. The recommendations also give ditch to scientific approach and are simply meant to serve BJPs political interests,"
The NC while reacting to Mr. Singh’s assertion tweeted, “Misrepresenting and distorting the facts with malicious intention! Very misleading statement. We have clearly expressed our resentment over the draft of the Delimitation Commission, the biassed process of seat sharing. The party will NOT be a signatory to this report”.
Former minister and People’s Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone also rejected the commission proposals. He tweeted, “The recommendations of the Delimitation Commission are totally unacceptable. They reek of bias. What a shock for those who believe in democracy”.
Former chief minister and People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti who had last week said that her party has no faith in the commission and hence boycotted its deliberations said, “My apprehensions about the Delimitation Commission were not misplaced. They want to pitch people against each other by ignoring the population census and proposing six seats for one region and only one for Kashmir”.
She also wrote on micro-blogging site, “This commission has been created simply to serve BJP’s political interests by dividing people along religious and regional lines. The real game plan is to install a government in J&K which will legitimise the illegal and unconstitutional decisions of August 2019”.
The J&K Apni party headed by former minister Syed Altaf Bukhari who is known to be very close to the BJP leadership too has resented the commission’s draft recommendations saying that these will alter the electoral map of J&K illogically and unfairly.
However, the BJP and likeminded parties and groups whose political base is condensed mainly in Jammu have welcomed the draft recommendation of the commission, asserting these would on their implementation put an end to “decades of injustice meted out to the region”. Javaid Rahi, founder Secretary of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation said, “The draft recommendation of the 'Delimitation Commission' regarding the reservation of 9 seats for Tribal (STs) in JK Assembly is a step that will prove historic towards tribal development”.
The Delimitation Commission set up on March 6, 2020 by a law ministry notification was initially asked to examine the issue of redrawing the LoK Sabha and Assembly constitutions simultaneously in J&K, Assam and some other North-Eastern states. But later, when the commission had already laid the groundwork to start the delimitation exercise in these states, the government excluded Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland from its purview for the time being, raising many eyebrows in J&K and beyond. The Centre also extended its term by one-year in March last year.
Headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai the commission had said in July this year that the responsibility assigned to it was somewhat convoluted and not merely a mathematical game. It, however, assured that the exercise it has taken up will be “very transparent” and had asked the people, political parties, and other stakeholders in the Union Territory (UT) to thrust aside all their fears and apprehensions.
It had also announced that the delimitation will be conducted based on the 2011 census and the final draft prepared after taking all demands and recommendations into account. Also, the final draft will be put in public domain for objections and debate, it had assured.