LG’s Assurances

TRYING to dispel the growing apprehensions about the work of the Delimitation Commission in Jammu and Kashmir,  Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday said that the Commission would not err and he had full trust in its transparent functioning. He also downplayed the voices of protest against the Commission’s draft proposals that seek to drastically redraw the Assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Kashmir. He said that the Commission is a constitutional body and it was improper for anyone to question or comment on its decisions. The LG tried to further allay fears by saying that the Commission had so far only proposed changes saying it had only given the draft only to its Associate members. “If they wish so, they can give their opinions or objections pointing out ‘discrepancies,” the LG said adding that the draft would subsequently be put in the public domain and the common people would be asked to give their opinions and make suggestions.

As for the Assembly elections, LG Sinha repeated the assurances of the union home minister Amit Shah.  If we go by the sequence of the steps to be followed before the statehood is restored, the completion of the delimitation exercise would lead to the holding of the elections within the union territory framework. And statehood would be a third step in the process.  But this sequence is unacceptable to the major J&K parties. Likewise, the parties are unhappy about the home minister's condition that statehood would be restored once the situation in J&K is "normal." The logical question that follows is who will decide Kashmir is normal now, the local parties are asking. The parties are thus unsure that the centre is serious about restoring statehood even after elections are held and a government is in place. The centre, it appears, would first like to see the behaviour of the elected government before taking a call on returning the statehood.

Going forward, the situation looks very uncertain. It is unlikely that space for a normal political activity will open up anytime soon. The centre is in no mood to engage with Kashmiri establishment parties after their meeting with the prime minister last year.  The harsh truth is that if at all, the centre will engage, it will do so on its terms and offer little accommodation to the demands of the major regional parties like the National Conference and the PDP. However, it makes sense that we take LG Sinha’s assurances on their face value and hope the Delimitation Commission’s recommendations will be to the satisfaction of both Kashmir and Jammu regions.

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