After holding multiple meetings in Srinagar and New Delhi, with several stakeholders and the associate members, the J&K Delimitation Commission has published the most recent draft of its proposals to redraw, rename or reserve assembly and parliamentary constituencies of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, seeking public suggestions till March 21.
The commission, through a public notice has said: “The Delimitation Commission has published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary and in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir Gazette, both dated 14th March, 2022 its proposals for the delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies in the UT of Jammu & Kashmir for the purpose of elections to the House of People and the Legislative Assembly for the Union Territory. The Commission invites objections and suggestions in relation to the same.” The commission will visit the union territory on March 28 and 29 for public sittings. The commission was given an extension of two months in the last week of February to complete the drawing of boundaries in Jammu and Kashmir.
- If the proposal is cleared, the total number of assembly constituencies will rise from 83 to 90, with 43 in the Jammu region and 47 in Kashmir; 24 seats will be kept aside for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. In the current state House, Jammu has 37 members and Kashmir has 46.
- The draft also includes renaming of certain constituencies. The Habba Kadal assembly constituency, which was earlier included in Srinagar South, has been renamed. The Larnoo constituency will now be called Kokernag, to represent the larger area. Likewise, the Anantnag East seat will henceforth be Shangus- Anantnag East. The Mughalmaidan seat in Kishtwar has been renamed Inderwal.
- As per the proposals of the panel, J&K will have 90 assembly constituencies out of which, for the first time in J&K’s history, the commission proposes to reserve nine seats for Schedules Tribes and seven seats for Scheduled Castes. Nine seats reserved for STs include Rajouri, Darhal and Thanna Mandi, all in Rajouri district, Surankote and Mendhar in Poonch district and Mahore in Reasi district (Jammu region), Gurez in Bandipora district, Kangan in Ganderbal district and Kokernag in Anantnag district (Kashmir division). All seven seats reserved for SCs fall in Jammu region including Ramnagar in Udhampur district, Kathua South in Kathua district, Ramgarh in Samba district, Bishnah, Suchetgarh, Marh and Akhnoor in Jammu district.
- Delimitation is a key step in the move to hold elections in the UT, which could then be followed by the restoration of its statehood. Jammu and Kashmir lost its statehood on August 5, 2019, with abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
- In June, 2021, at an all-party meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told leaders of political parties that statehood will be restored after fresh elections are held in the region, on the basis of the delimitation process.
The Delimitation Commission stuck to its proposal for six new constituencies in Jammu and one in the Valley in the draft. The number of Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir will remain five. The Jammu division will have Jammu-Reasi and Udhampur-Doda constituencies while the Kashmir division will have Srinagar-Budgam and Baramulla-Kupwara. Anantnag-Poonch seat will be part of both the divisions.
The commission is headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai. The five associate members of the panel – Union minister Jitendra Singh of the BJP, NC chief Farooq Abdullah, NC MP Mohammad Akbar Lone, MP, NC MP Hasnain Masoodi and BJP MP Jugal Kishore Sharma — were first presented with the draft in December. The Commission has included dissent notes by National Conference MPs in its order.