Inside Kashmir

J&K’s Delimitation: Yet to take final call on NC’s participation in process, says Dr Farooq Abdullah

‘We will hold meeting soon to discuss whether to be part of exercise’

Srinagar: National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah Friday said that the party hasn’t taken any decision on participating in the delimitation exercise in J&K and that the final call will be taken after thorough consultations with the party leaders in the days ahead.

Dr Farooq said that NC has not decided anything yet on its participation in the delimitation exercise. “We will sit and discuss the issue threadbare and accordingly final call will be taken in the days ahead,” he said.

Earlier, media reports suggested that NC may plunge into the delimitation exercise as majority of its leaders during the recently held Central Working Committee (CWC) meet had seriously advocated “active participation in the process to ensure no injustice is done with Kashmir.”

Reliable sources in the NC camp revealed that final consultations are yet to take place and call will be taken within a week or so. “So far we have stayed away from the exercise but there are some strong voices within the party that advocate active participation in the delimitation exercise to ensure no injustice with the Kashmir Valley,” they said.

Interestingly, from the NC camp Dr Farooq and MP Justice Hasnain Masoodi were nominated as the members of the delimitation panel, however, the party decided the stay away from the exercise. From the BJP, MoS in PMO Dr Jitendera Singh and MP Jammu-Poonch Jugal Kishore the members of the panel.

NC didn’t participate in the first meeting of the delimitation panel called by its chairman Justice (Rtc) Ranjana Prakash Desai in February this year. If sources are to be believed, many NC leaders were of the belief that the party should participate in the delimitation process to ensure BJP doesn’t play any spoil sport and resort to any sort of injustice with Kashmir by advocating more Assembly seats to Jammu.

“We have put forth our views before the party chief Dr Farooq sahib and also to NC’s vice-president Omar Abdullah. However, there is a need for broader consultation on the subject before the party chief announces final decision,” a senior NC leader who was present in the party’s CWC meeting wishing anonymity.

In March this year, the delimitation Commission, mandated to redraw parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, was given a one-year extension. The commission was constituted in 2019, however, it couldn’t meet due to “unfeasible situation.” Before Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act in August 2019, the effective strength of the J&K was 87, including four seats from Ladakh, which is now a separate Union Territory without a legislature. The strength of the realigned Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is 107 now with 24 seats to continue to remain vacant as those fall in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK).

Earlier, in a letter to the chairman of the commission, the NC MPs, including NC chief Farooq Abdullah, had stated, “In our view, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 is palpably unconstitutional and has been enacted in disregard and violation of the mandate and the spirit of the Constitution of India and therefore, not to be acted upon.” As per the section 60 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, “…the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114….” With 24 seats in PaK, the effective strength will go up from 83 to 90. Pertinently, elections in the J&K UT can’t be held unless delimitation exercise is over and re-alignment of assembly and parliamentary seats is done afresh.

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