Srinagar: The draft proposal shared with associate members by the delimitation commission has triggered a political churn, as regional parties like National Conference feel that even the proposed changes in the Assembly segments of Kashmir valley is being done in such way that it will favour parties like Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference and Altaf Bukhari led J&K Apni Party in North Kashmir.
These doubts were expressed by National Conference leaders in a meeting with former chief minister Omar Abdullah. They said that both in Jammu and in the Kashmir valley, the delimitation commission is out to divide the support base of National Conference so that there is advantage to parties like BJP and their allies in Kashmir like PC and Apni Party.
After the draft proposal was shared with three sitting MPs of National Conference from Kashmir valley and with two sitting MPs of BJP from Jammu region, it has evoked sharp reactions from regional parties in entire Jammu and Kashmir and they have alleged that the entire delimitation exercise is being carried out to help BJP to form the government here as and when elections are held.
In the parliamentary segment of Anantnag, the commission has proposed to merge Poonch and Rajouri districts, which were part of the Jammu parliamentary constituency. It will give a clear edge to BJP on this segment and the Kashmir centric parties have also questioned the logic behind it, saying that these two districts are hundreds of kilometers away from Anantnag. “The delimitation exercise is done only at the behest of BJP to give them political benefits during elections,” said former Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti. She alleged that Muslims in Rajouri, Kashmir or Chenab Valley, have been disempowered and the redrawing of assembly segments shows that “what is the intention of BJP”. It is in place to mention that the delimitation commission headed by retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai is redrawing 90 Assembly and 5 Parliament seats in Jammu and Kashmir. In the first draft, the delimitation commission proposed allotment of six more assembly seats to Jammu against just one seat to Kashmir, triggering sharp reactions from the regional parties saying that, it depicts bias as Kashmir has higher density of population and seats were being enhanced in Jammu to help BJP.
Recently, the delimitation commission has released the redrawing of boundaries of assembly seats, which has baffled the regional parties as they feel that the entire exercise is to only help BJP and it is not based on merit or the parameters laid down for the redrawing of the boundaries. In Chenab Valley, National Conference and PDP feel that, BJP wants to blunt their influence in this area by redrawing the assembly segments. In Kishtwar district, the commission has carved out three seats from the earlier two seats.
Out of these three seats according to the data of the population, two Assembly segments would be now from the Hindu majority areas while as earlier both the seats used to be Muslim majority seats. “In Kishtwar district we have a population of 2.3 lakh, 40% of them Hindus and 57% Muslims. The commission is trying to help BJP for the two seats from 40% of the population,” said a local National Conference leader of the district. Similarly, he said that the same has been done in the Doda district which has a population of more than 4 lakh, 45% of them Hindus and 55% Muslims. The earlier two Assembly seats have been changed in three again on the pattern of Kishtwar district; the two of the three assembly segments have been carved out from the Hindu majority areas.
The opposition by the National Conference to the second draft stems from the fact that the electoral representation of Muslims in Jammu region by these changes will come down from 13 to 10 seats, while as the numbers will go up in the region from 37 to 43 according to the proposal of the commission.