A meeting of the Delimitation Commission is scheduled for December 20 in New Delhi, the first since Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an all-party meeting earlier in June. According to media reports, the Commission had completed its report and is likely to share it with all the five associate members, including three MPs from the NC and two MPs from the BJP.
Completion of the process of delimitation will be a significant development considering that it is supposed to pave the way for the restoration of statehood. During his recent visit to J&K, the home minister Amit Shah said the delimitation will be followed by Assembly elections, formation of the government and the subsequent statehood. The delimitation commission has already been in place for the last over a year.
It is not clear whether this statehood that would hopefully come after delimitation and the election would be full or a truncated one where the real power would vest with the governor. Such an arrangement, according to mainstream J&K politicians, would hardly be enough to make a redeeming difference to the existing state of affairs, as fundamentally there won’t be much that would change on the ground.
The dilemma for Kashmir-based politicians is that they can’t ever support the withdrawal of Article 370. Their politics and their relevance depend on this. But their demand for the restoration of statehood has not resonated with people. More so, after the centre has made it clear that the statehood would be restored only after delimitation and the elections. So, the only thing they are left to talk about is the routine governance issues, but they aren’t doing even that. One reason for this is that no party is ready to stick its neck out and talk in an adversarial tone against the government, which is the lifeblood of politics. Some newly floated parties are more unlikely to do so as they are part of an alternative political and civil society structure that has been set up to take place of the established structure.
The consequent political vacuum has thus needed filling. But with a political representation that gave voice to the aspirations and the grievances of the people and certainly not with the one that is seen to represent New Delhi in Kashmir. There is but little hope that these parties will be allowed to publicly raise their issues with the intensity that they were used to doing before the revocation of Article 370. They will have no option but to wait. As long as the BJP government is in power in New Delhi, they won't be able to engage in their old-style political activity. That's a given. But much will also depend on the delimitation of the seats and who will benefit from it.
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