What’s On Agenda? NC Asks Delimitation Panel On Dec 20 Meet

Members of the J&K Delimitation Commission at a news conference in Jammu | File Photo 

Srinagar- The National Conference (NC) parliamentarians have written a letter to Delimitation Commission asking it to provide an agenda for the meeting scheduled to be held next week in New Delhi.

NC’s Member of Parliament from Anantnag constituency, Hasnain Masoodi told Kashmir Observer on Monday that he has been invited by the panel for a meeting in New Delhi on December 20 but without being informed about the agenda of the meeting.

“As the invitation forwarded by the commission to our party had no mention of the agenda, the party decided to send a written communication to the Commission, asking it to provide the relevant agenda of the meeting and other material so that the party MPs could decide whether to participate in the meeting or not,” he said.

Masoodi and two other NC MPs -- Farooq Abdullah and Mohammad Akbar Lone -- had boycotted the first meeting of the commission earlier this year, saying the exercise was an outcome of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019, which the party has challenged in the Supreme Court.

In addition to the NC parliamentarians, BJP MPs Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma are associate members of the commission.

“The letter was jointly sent by me, Lone Sahab (Akbar Lone) and Doctor Sahab (Farooq Abdullah).” Masoodi said.

“All three of us will first go through the agenda before taking the decision whether we will participate in the meeting or not. Our first priority has always been to choose and participate in any meeting which is in benefit of our people and state,” he said.

He further added, “We will go through the material that is provided to us so that we can look into it, decide whether it favours our people or not and subsequently, conclude the decision on our participation.”

As per the National Conference MP, the party has also reminded the Delimitation Commission that there has been no response from the commission on its previous letter.

“Till now, the Commission hasn’t given any reply to the party’s letter that was written in February this year.” Masoodi said.

Pertinently, on February 17, while opting to stay out from the commission's first meeting, the NC MPs had sent a letter to the Commission and stated that the party had boycotted the first meeting of the Commission because the exercise was an outcome of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act-2019, which the party had challenged in the Supreme Court.

The letter had also called upon the Commission to halt the delimitation proceedings as the exercise was being conducted in accordance with the provisions of an Act which is under judicial scrutiny.

Masoodi said once the party MPs get a response from the Commission, they will study it and then take a decision.

“There is absolutely no way that we could’ve participated in the Delimitation Commission’s meeting without even knowing what that meeting is all about. We’ve been told that the commission will provide a reply to our letter by Tuesday morning and similarly the party will deliberate its next step,” Masoodi said.

“Maybe the party leadership will go for a meeting of senior leaders to decide whether we will participate or not. Or maybe the three of us will have a vis-à-vis discussion as we are currently here in New Delhi,” he said

He further added, “If we're satisfied with the legality of the commission's agenda, we may participate.”

Meanwhile, BJP has decided to attend the Delimitation Commission’s meeting that has been scheduled for next week.

“BJP will participate and cooperate with the Commission which is a Constitutional body and is working as per the laid down norms.” Union Minister, Dr Jitendra Singh said.

On March 6, 2020, the government of India set up the Delimitation Commission and tasked it to finish delimitation in a year. On March 4 this year, it was granted a year’s extension. This was done on the request of the commission members since it couldn’t make much progress due to the “Covid-19-induced shutdown across the country.”

Jammu and Kashmir saw the last delimitation exercise in 1994-95, after 22 years, which resulted in an increase in the number of Assembly constituencies from 76 to 87. The Jammu region saw an increase of five seats (from 32 to 37 seats), the Kashmir Valley an increase of four seats (from 42 to 46) and Ladakh two seats (from two to four).

The erstwhile State as a whole had a total of 111 seats—24 reserved and vacant for Pakistan controlled Kashmir. (With agency inputs)

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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