Address Fears

THE delimitation commission, led by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai is in Jammu & Kashmir on a four day visit to interact with political parties and officials for their inputs about redrawing new constituencies in the Union Territory. Except for the PDP, all other parties have chosen to meet the commission. The exercise, the PDP said, was pre-planned and aimed to realise the “political vision of a particular party”.

But the delegations of the other parties have met the commission. This includes the National Conference which until recently had boycotted it, terming the exercise illegal as it was as, according to the party, it stemmed from the revocation of Article 370 and the subsequent J&K Reorganization Act that was currently facing challenge in the Supreme Court.

In their interactions with the commission, the Valley based parties have expressed their apprehensions about the exercise. They have sought transparency in how the commission goes about redrawing the constituencies and which the commission has promised it would do.

A five-member delegation of the National Conference, the largest J&K party, that met the commission has told it that the exercise should have been undertaken after the assembly elections. The party also termed it as an “unconstitutional exercise” based on the Reorganisation Act, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

However the misgivings about the commission aren’t limited to the political parties, the people at large have deep suspicions. They believe that the effort is geared to grant more seats to Jammu, something that would reduce the political weight of the Kashmir Valley in a future Assembly. And the commission should address such apprehensions.

Incidentally, the visit of the commission follows immediately after the much hyped meeting of the prime minister Narendra Modi with the J&K leaders. The meeting turned out to be more of an interaction of the PM and the home minister Amit Shah with the J&K leaders than an effort to resolve the issues currently facing the former state. Both the PM and the HM stayed true to their ongoing approach towards J&K. They were not inclined even to restore the statehood in the near term. Instead, the statehood would follow at an appropriate time,” once the delimitation exercise has been completed and the elections within the union territory framework have been held. This could set the stage for the restoration of statehood. But no one is sure if the statehood to be granted would be full or a truncated one where the real power would vest in the governor.

It is in this context that the role of the delimitation commission assumes a profound significance. The outcome of the exercise has the potential to alter the political complexion of J&K.

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