J&K: Delimitation Panel Redraws Political Map

    0
    421

    In Context

    • The Delimitation Panel proposed significant changes to the political map of J&K.

    Background

    • Delimitation refers to the process of redrawing of political boundaries of the Lok Sabha seats and Legislative Assembly seats, to give representation to the population changes in a state. 
    • J&K lost its special status with abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. Accordingly, the delimitation commission was set up under the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 and the Delimitation Act, 2002.

    Delimitation Commission

    • About:
      • Constitution: The Commission consists of a Retired Judge of the Supreme Court (Justice Ranjana Desai), Chief Election Commissioner (Sushil Chandra) and J&K Election Commissioner KK Sharma.
      • Associate Members: The five Lok Sabha MPs from the State are associate members of the Commission. At present, three of them belong to the National Conference, while two are from the BJP.
      • This is the fifth Commission formed since independence. It will be using the census data of 2011 for the delimitation exercise.
      • It is to be noted that Parliament has frozen the delimitation process till 2026, as per the 84th amendment to the Constitution of India.
    • Aim: 
      • To better reflect the changing demographics of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, along with giving representation to the vulnerable sections of the state like the Scheduled Tribes.

    Recommendations of the Commission

    • Number of Seats: The Commission has proposed to raise the number of Assembly constituencies to 90, with 24 additional seats being reserved for Pakistan–occupied Kashmir (PoK). Thus, Jammu and Kashmir will have a total of 114 seats in the Legislative Assembly.
      • Out of these 90, 43 seats will be from Jammu division (up from 37 seats), while 47 seats will be from Kashmir (up from 46 seats earlier).
    • New Seats: The 6 new seats in Jammu are proposed in the districts of Kathua, Samba, Rajouri, Reasi, Doda and Kishtwar. One new seat will also be added in the Kupwara district of Kashmir Valley.
      • Reason: The Commission has said that it has recommended carving out new constituencies to give geographical representation to the areas located in remote areas on the international border. These areas do not have adequate communication facilities. They also suffer from inhospitable conditions and lack adequate public conveniences.
    • Modification in the Existing Seats: Several changes have been proposed in Baramulla, Kupwara, Srinagar, Kulagam and Anantnag districts of the Kashmir division. These changes are in the nature of splitting and merging of the existing constituencies, to create seats with new dynamics.
    • Representation to Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Scheduled Castes (SCs): The commission has proposed to reserve nine seats for the STs and seven seats for the SCs, as per their population in the state. This is the first time seats have been proposed for the STs. The state has several ST communities including Gujjars and Bakarwals.

    Concerns

    • Allegations of Bias: The MPs from National Conference have rejected the recommendations of the Commission It has said that it will soon send a detailed response to the proposals of the Commission. 
      • NC MPs had earlier rejected the draft proposal of the Commission alleging that they are biased against the Kashmir region.
    • Under-representation: On the other hand, people from the Jammu region have demanded increased representation, alleging that they have been historically under-represented in the Legislative Assembly.

    Conclusion

    • The delimitation exercise is important to give effect to the democratic aspirations of the people as well as better reflect the ground realities on the political map of the state. However, it must be ensured that the process is objective and free from any political bias.

    Source: TH