explained | Why is the J&K delineation exercise important?

Following the 2019 reorganization law, the exercise will build on the 2011 census and add seven seats to the Assembly

With the J&K demarcation exercise at the center of the June 24 talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and J&K political parties, particularly the Gupkar alliance, the long-awaited process is likely to add seven more constituencies to the Current assembly of 83 Union Territory (UT) members ahead of the promised elections.

Despite a freeze brought by the government of then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to both the State Assembly and the Supreme Court in 2002 on this process until 2026, the J&K Boundaries Commission saw the day under the provisions of Part V of the J&K reorganization. Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002, adopted by the Center in August 2019 with other J&K specific bills.

Read also | Lieutenant Governor J&K calls on parties to cooperate with Boundaries Committee for early polls

Prior to August 5, 2019, J&K Assembly seats were removed under the J&K Constitution and the Representation of the People in Jammu and Kashmir Act 1957. J&K saw the last delineation 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 region an increase of four seats (from 42 to 46) and Ladakh two seats (from two to four).

The state as a whole had a total of 111 seats; with 24 reserved and vacant for occupied Pakistani Kashmir (PoK), while J&K would hold elections for 87 seats, including four for Ladakh, after a six-year term, unlike the rest of the country where assemblies have a tenure of five years.

what changed

After August 5, 2019 and the state split into two Union Territories, the composition of the Assembly changed and the seats in the Union Territory of Ladakh were declared void, reducing the strength of the Union. J&K Assembly at 83 to 87. Thus, the Boundary Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, was formed on March 6, 2020 to demarcate seven additional constituencies based on the 2001 census – same if the new census is due this year – bringing the number of seats to 90.

The five UT deputies of J&K, two of the BJP and three of the National Conference, are its members. The Commission, which was given a one-year mandate to complete the exercise until March of the year, was granted an extension.

Read also | “The delimitation should be based on the 2031 census”

The extension was made necessary after the NC boycotted the committee meeting on February 18 this year, claiming that the entire 2019 reorganization law was under judicial review for being “patently unconstitutional and enacted in contempt. and in violation of the mandate and spirit of the Constitution of India ”. . On the other hand, the BJP deputies suggested considering elements other than the population such as physical characteristics, the existing boundaries of administrative units, means of communication and public amenities while delimiting new constituencies.

Why the BJP agenda?

According to Aijaz Ashraf Wani, senior assistant professor of political science at the University of Kashmir, the BJP has for many years proposed the removal of the special status and the delimitation exercise.

“The repeal of the special constitutional position of J&K has been obtained. He does not want to miss the process of delineating his set deadlines. It may not have significant electoral value, but has high rhetorical value for the party in the Jammu region, where its voting base is, ”said Professor Wani.

While there is an established formula for carving out new constituencies, the BJP will only win if seats are increased in districts where it dominates the political scene like the Samba-Kathua-Jammu-Udhampur belt.

“Although it seems about seven [new seats]There is an overall likelihood of even distribution between the Kashmir region and the Jammu region, ”Mr. Wani said.

He said the delineation process will become a major part of the ballot for the BJP in upcoming polls to highlight how it has attempted to break the dominance of the Kashmir region by increasing seats in the Jammu region. “It remains to be seen how much they can actually gain on the pitch,” he added.

However, many in Jammu are of the opinion that this will be the first time that the Listed Tribes have been reserved for the J&K Coven.

What is the connection with the elections?

Constitutionally, Mr. Wani, declared that there is no correlation between the two exercises, the delimitation and the elections. “Both are independent exercises. However, the BJP wants to put a streak there, ”he added.

Experts have suggested that the delimitation talks, which have recently been brought to the center of the talks, are a problem with the BJP and the NC, as only these two parties have J&K MPs. Thus, other political parties, such as the People’s Democratic Party or the Congress without a deputy, have no locus standi in the exercise.

The Delimitation Commission is an independent body established under section 82 after Parliament enacts a delimitation law after each census. Interestingly, the J&K Delimitation Commission wants to base their delineation on the 2011 census report and not scheduled for 2021.

Why did NC agree to be part of it?

Mr. Wani said the NC understands that the process cannot significantly change the electoral dynamics at J&K.

“By assisting in the process, NC will give credibility to the final report. Why they agreed to be part of the process they interviewed earlier is not known? ” he added.

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