Delimitation Report Defies Any & All Logic: Dr Farooq

Farooq Abdullah | KO File Photo

New Delhi- Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who heads the National Conference, on Saturday slammed the draft report of the Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir, saying it "defies any and all logic" and no political, social and administrative reason can justify the recommendations.

Abdullah, who is Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar parliamentary seat, also made it clear that the party is now engaged in formulating a detailed response to this report and also exploring other options to challenge the entire process.

One of the five Associate members of the Commission, the NC leader said the report was received on Friday night and "I am in the process of reading it in detail. But from whatever I have seen, we at the National Conference completely reject this report."

Abdullah, who has been the chief minister of the state thrice besides being a union minister, said, "There is no political, administrative and social logic that justifies these recommendations".

He said that they were earlier told that the delimitation exercise was being undertaken to make assembly seats contiguous with the district.

"But the draft report is showing a different picture altogether.

"Like Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in South Kashmir will have six assembly seats from Rajouri and Poonch, which are part of Jammu division and located across Peerpanjal range," Abdullah said and asked, "How is this inclined for providing better administration?"

Similarly, the way assembly constituencies have been carved out in which some have "completely disappeared defies any and all logic".

In its report, the Delimitation Commission has proposed an overhaul of assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies which includes redrawing of the Anantnag Parliamentary seat by adding Rajouri and Poonch from the Jammu region, besides carrying out massive changes in the Kashmir division.

Many of the assembly seats in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state have vanished that include Habba Kadal, a seat that was seen as a traditional bastion of migrant Kashmiri pandits.

Similarly, Budgam district, which had five assembly seats, was redrawn and merged with Baramulla Parliamentary constituency besides splitting of some of the areas and carving out new assembly seats like Kunzer in North Kashmir.

Pulwama, Tral and some areas of Shopian, which formed part of the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, will now be part of the Srinagar Parliamentary seat.

The report was sent to the five associate members including Abdullah, Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone (Lok Sabha MPs from the National Conference) and Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore (BJP MPs) on Friday.

They have been asked to submit their views by February 14 after which the report would be put in the public domain, officials said.

Congress, NPP React Strongly

The Congress and the National Panthers Party (NPP) also reacted strongly on Saturday to the second draft proposal of the delimitation commission, proposing an overhaul of the Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The norms, criteria, ground realities and aspirations of people seem to have been ignored in the delimitation of the constituencies," chief spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir Congress Ravinder Sharma said on media reports about the draft proposal.

He said people are surprised over the kind of "divisions and clubbing of certain areas, ignoring the ground realities and putting people to great hardships".

"This is certainly not in accordance with the needs, wishes and aspirations of people," Sharma said.

Surprisingly, he said most of the recommendations were already in circulation and in the public domain through the leaders of the BJP.

Sharma said the Congress would discuss the proposal once the formal draft is out and put forth the view of the people forcefully.

Seeking publication of the draft delimitation report in the official gazette along with the objections of the associate members, NPP chairman and former Jammu and Kashmir minister Harsh Dev Singh said it is a mandatory requirement.

Referring to section 9(2)(a) of the Delimitation Act, he said after the preparation of the draft report, the commission is required to publish its proposals for delimitation of constituencies together with the dissenting proposals or objections, if any, of the associate members in the official gazette.

"It is also required to specify a date on or before which the said proposals could be considered as laid down in section 9(2)(b). After the consideration of such objections, the final report is to be published in the gazette under section 10 of the Act.

"The same provisions have been incorporated in section 60 of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act, which further provides that the final report of the commission shall not be called in question in any court of law," Singh said.

The NPP leader said the submission of a delimitation report to the associate members in Parliament, without publishing it in the official gazette, was in violation of section 60 of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act and section 9 of the Delimitation Act.

"The associate members having already conveyed their objections between December 20 and December 31, 2021 in terms of the earlier orders of the commission, it is legally inappropriate to once again seek suggestions from them without publishing the report along with their previous objections," he said.

Calling for an early completion of the delimitation exercise in accordance with the stipulated norms and procedures, Singh appealed to the commission to ensure complete fairness and transparency in its functioning, without succumbing to the "diktats" of any political party.

He demanded a time-bound completion of the delimitation process and immediate conduct of the Assembly polls to ensure the installation of a legitimate, elected government in Jammu and Kashmir

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