Growing chorus around the delimitation has caused deep unease in Kashmir, with people seeing in it a design to disempower the majority community in the state. The idea to carry out the delimilitation in the state was floated on the very first day of the new NDA government in Delhi. People are given to understand that a commission would be set up in right earnest and it will complete the delimitation by the time Assembly elections are held. This means that the government intends to speed up the process not to reflect the new electoral ground reality but to correct the alleged imbalance in seat sharing between Jammu and Kashmir. Some government officials in their statements to the press have made no bones about enhancing the number of seats in Jammu in a way that may pave way for a Hindu Chief Minister for the state.
This premeditated approach to the exercise undermines its credibility. From the looks of it, it seems geared to favour one community only with a full backing of the state. And that too without taking the state’s political parties on board, let alone starting a public debate. One really feels like asking why such a hurry. Delimitation of constituencies is very contentious in nature and it is important to build a political and public consensus before the government seeks to go about the exercise. And this is something which only a democratically elected government is capable of achieving.
But this is not the only thing that is wrong with the move. It is also troublingly selective in nature. These are the concerns which are specific to parts of one region and do nothing to address the lingering turmoil in the state. On the contrary, by doing this government will only further complicate the situation. Delimitation is an extraordinary step to take with far-reaching implications. But it seems to be motivated by considerations other than bringing the electoral landscape up to date with current reality. It seems to have a larger strategic design than just addressing the demand from a section of population in Jammu. But such arbitrary tinkering with the state will make things further difficult. The decisions about the state are taken without any reference to the majority of the people of the state. And this is a tragedy. KashmIr problem is not only about the political dispute between India and Pakistan and the ongoing separatist movement in the state, it is also about the systematic disempowerment of the majority community. And unless and until this is corrected, there is little hope of the situation getting any better in the state.