BJP pushing its agenda of empowering Jammu region by anointing first-ever Hindu Chief Minister on the ‘hot seat’
The first-ever Assembly elections in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir are most likely to take place between late October and early November this year after the culmination of the annual Amarnath pilgrimage. As of now, the Delimitation Commission is gearing up to prepare its final draft before sharing it in the public domain for inviting any objections/ suggestions.
The schedule of the Assembly polls would be declared only after the completion of the Delimitation of Assembly/ Parliamentary constituencies in the Union Territory.
Currently, the commission is in the process of incorporating suggestions/ objections filed by the five associate members after the interim draft report was submitted to them in the first week of February 2022. The commission is expected to place the amended draft in the public domain before finalizing its report in March 2022.
With the culmination of the marathon exercise, the balance of power is also likely to be shifted towards the Jammu region.
The total strength of the J&k legislature is set to increase from 83 to 90 after the reorganization of the erstwhile state of J&k. Out of these 90 seats, Kashmir will get 47, and Jammu 43.
In its interim report, the commission had proposed six additional seats for the Jammu region and one for Kashmir, while reserving 16 constituencies for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes across the Union Territory.
The tug of war between the different political parties has already started on ground zero with BJP aggressively pushing its agenda of empowering the Jammu region by anointing the first-ever Hindu Chief Minister on the ‘hot seat’.
The saffron party has set itself the target of winning more than 50 Assembly seats to realize its dream of capturing power on its own strength.
On the other hand, the mainstream political parties especially with their base in Kashmir valley are most likely to give tough competition to prevent BJP from garnering majority seats. These parties are most likely to field a joint candidate in the fray to prevent division of votes on some of the sensitive seats while their party candidates would contest in their strong bastions to win maximum seats.
Likely schedule of the Assembly polls
The schedule of the Assembly polls is likely to be announced only after the culmination of the ongoing exercise undertaken by the Delimitation Commission.
The term of the commission is ending on March 6, 2022. Since it cannot submit its final report till then it is most likely to get another extension of at least three months. It clearly means if the entire exercise would be completed by June-July 2022 the election commission can take the call of holding the polls only after the culmination of the Amarnath yatra. The yatra is expected to take place between June 27 to August 11 this year. Any announcement of polls scheduled in this year is most likely between October to early November before the peak winter season sets in.
Objections raised by the National Conference
The National Conference (NC) had raised certain objections before the Delimitation Commission on its second draft proposing major changes in constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to NC MP Hasnain Masoodi, “the Delimitation Commission Act was not applicable to J&K and it was made applicable on August 5, 2019, through the J&K Reorganisation Act. Since the Supreme Court is hearing petitions challenging the validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act, this means it will also examine whether the Delimitation Act could have been made applicable to J&K.”
The Centre, he said, should have waited for the verdict before going for delimitation of Assembly and parliamentary seats.
In its second draft, the Delimitation Commission proposed the deletion of 22 Assembly seats and the creation of 29 seats as well as major changes in parliamentary constituencies.
Draft of Delimitation Commission prepared in the BJP office: JKPPCC
Pradesh Congress Committee president Ghulam Ahmad Mir has alleged that the draft of the Delimitation Commission was prepared in the BJP office and the delimitation panel was just a puppet that consented to it.
Addressing media persons in Jammu, Mir also played a conversation purportedly taking place between J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina and former BJP minister Shakti Raj Parihar, which has been widely circulated on social media as well.
“Since 2014, the BJP government has been trying to destroy constitutional bodies and have reduced them to mere puppets. We all know how the judiciary, CBI, ED, and other agencies are being used by the present dispensation to meet its designs,” said Mir.
He said on similar lines, the present regime has used a delimitation panel to its “advantage” in J&K.
“The commission came into being via law and the constitutional body has a set of guidelines that govern it. Though the commission has yet to put the draft in the public domain, not a single person in J&K has welcomed it.
BJP happy with the recommendations: J&K BJP Chief
Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina has said concerns raised by party activists and the public have been noted and a few suggestions have been submitted to the commission before placing its report in the public domain.
Raina dismissed the opposition outcry on the draft proposal, saying it has become a routine for parties like the Congress, National Conference, and the PDP to raise a question mark and unleash propaganda on “every good work” done to “provide justice” to those marginalized over the decades under their rule.
After almost all political parties opposed the draft Delimitation Commission report, hundreds of BJP activists also tendered mass resignation to protest the proposed merger of the Suchetgarh Assembly constituency with R S Pura in the Jammu district.
“We have pacified the protesting activists by assuring them that their concerns will be put forth before the commission. Suchetgarh is located near the International Border and the people of the constituency met with our parliamentarians, expressing their desire to keep the constituency intact,” he said.
Among other things, he said the BJP parliamentarians will also plead for de-reservation of the R S Pura seat and highlight the concerns of the people of Poonch district, where the commission has reserved three seats for the Scheduled Tribes, which was against the aspirations of the local people who wanted one of the seats to be de-reserved.
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2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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