The Modi government after boldly scrapping the contentious Article 370 of the constitution from Jammu and Kashmir is gearing up for another big step which could change the dynamics of the region.
The Indian government under PM Modi has now decided to complete delimitation process in Jammu & Kashmir within a year which could dramatically tilt the balance of power towards Jammu region with more MLAs than the Kashmir in the legislature of the Union territory of J&K.
A Delimitation Commission was set up under the Delimitation Act, 2002 to readjust the division of each state and union territory into territorial constituencies for Lok Sabha and state assembly elections based on census figures of 2001.
The job of delimitation is assigned to a high power body. Such a body is known as Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission. “In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted four times— in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002,” the EC website said.
As per Times of India, the Centre had notified constitution of delimitation commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai and will have election commissioner Sushil Chandra as one of its members to reshape the assembly and parliamentary constituency of J&K as per the J&K Re-organisation Act of 2019.
After the revocation of Article 370 on August 5 last year, the erstwhile state was divided into two separate union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. According to the Reorganisation Act and reports by TOI, seven seats are to be added to the present 85 in J&K.
Pakistan-administered-Kashmir often referred by POK in India with 24 allotted seats will remain intact in the delimitation process, according to reports. At present, Kashmir region has 46 seats and Jammu 37, besides two nominated members.
According to media reports citing some sources, the Jammu region, which saw large scale migration to Jammu from the militancy-hit Kashmir including over 500,000 Kashmiri Pandits since the 1990s, will have more delegates from the region in the new legislature.
The TOI reports says that if more seats are allocated to the Jammu region as the case may be based on population, each constituency would have a mix of voters, unlike the Kashmir Valley. The last delimitation exercise in J&K was carried out in 1995.
The 24 seats in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir will not be considered in “reckoning the total membership of the Assembly” and it will remain vacant and will be excluded in ongoing delimiting exercise. The total assembly seats after the delimitation could go up from existing 107 to 114.
The delimitation exercise will also lead to a number of reserved constituencies based on the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes settlements and would further shift the balance towards Jammu region, says the TOI report.