New census figures based on a fair exercise would prove that the population of Jammu was more than Kashmir
On November 14, the first-ever Lt Governor of the just-created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Girish Chandra Murmu, made an important announcement. He talked about assembly polls in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. “Elections will be held soon. Jammu and Kashmir is a Union Territory with a legislature, it (LG’s rule) will not continue like this for so long. The process for holding the election will come soon,” LG Governor said while addressing a function on the Police Department at Talwara in Jammu’s Reasi district.
We are a democratic country. Elections at regular intervals to elect popularly-elected governments at the centre and in the states are an integral part of our democratic system. Democracy sans elections is no democracy; it’s a sham democracy. Hence, all right-thinking people and ardent believers in the concept of people’s democracy would always welcome election and talks about elections.
However, no one would welcome the idea of holding assembly polls in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir at this point in time. There are potent reasons for that. One, the UT of Jammu and Kashmir came into being only on October 31, 2019. It’s a new political entity. To hold assembly polls in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir before the 2021 census operations and de-novo delimitation of assembly constituencies would be only to negate the very Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, which was appreciated across the nation in general and neglected Jammu and Ladakh in particular. For, it nowhere says that assembly polls will be held in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir as per the 1995 biased delimitation of the assembly constituencies. It undoubtedly talks about fresh delimitation as per the Indian Representation of the people’s Act 1951. Besides, it talks about reserved seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. To ignore these factors would be to violate the spirit behind the August 5 and 6 historic changes.
One can only hope and pray that good sense would finally prevail and the authorities would refrain from holding assembly elections in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir before the 2021 census and fresh delimitation of assembly constituencies
Holding of assembly polls in UT of Jammu and Kashmir before fresh delimitation will, in addition, hurt the people of Jammu province. They never got a proper, just and fair share of representation in the assembly since 1951. In 1951, the Legislative-cum-Constituent Assembly was established on the basis of faulty and arbitrary delimitation. It was also a 100 per cent rigged assembly. It was an anti-Jammu and anti-Ladakh all National Conference Assembly. It gave an excessive and preponderant share of representation to Kashmir – more than 50 per cent. This, despite the fact that Jammu housed more population and Jammu’s area was two-time more that of Kashmir. The delimitation authorities ignored the laid down criteria – land, population, nature of terrain and accessibility. Had the delimitation authorities followed the laid down criteria by the Indian Representation of People’s Act 1951, Jammu would have got more seats in the assembly than Kashmir and political power would have remained with Jammu. But it was not to be. The Congress government at the Centre was committed to Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir and it gave him absolute power to decide the composition and complexion of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, the supreme law-making body in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State. Indeed, it was a cold-blooded murder of democracy in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State.
Ever since then, the people of Jammu province have been crying for proper representation in the assembly. The bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories have been taken by the people of Jammu province to mean the return of hope and joy for the future. The general belief here is that they would be duly compensated for the socio-cultural and politico-economic losses they suffered at the hands of the New Delhi-backed Kashmiri Muslim ruling elite.
It needs to be underlined that the land area of Jammu province is 26,293 sq km and bulk of its area is hilly, mountainous, and even treacherous. It lacks road connectivity. The bulk of the area is inaccessible. As for Kashmir, it’s land area is 15,953 sq km. Kashmir is highly developed in terms of road connectivity and communication network. It is easily accessible.
Kashmir in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State had 46 assembly seats at the rate of one per 344 sq km on an average. Jammu had 37 assembly segments at the rate of one per 710 sq km on an average. And we all need to look these facts in the fact. It’s no wonder then that this was the root cause of conflict between these two regions – Jammu province and Kashmir Valley. It was all along with the complaint of the people of Jammu province that the Kashmir’s excessive share of representation in the assembly deprived them of their legitimate due share in the state’s social, economic and political processes.
One can only hope and pray that good sense would finally prevail and the authorities would refrain from holding assembly elections in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir before the 2021 census and fresh delimitation of assembly constituencies. It’s a must to dispense justice to the people of Jammu province, who suffered for the national cause in the state for 72 long years and also sacrificed their genuine interests on the premise that their sacrifices would help New Delhi promote mainstream politics and check fissiparous tendencies. It didn’t happen. All their sacrifices went down the drain. That was why the Narendra Modi Government had to dethrone Mehbooba Mufti on June 19, 2018, abrogate discriminatory Article 35A, diluted Article 370 to render it ineffective and unreal for all practical purposes, and even broke the state into two Union Territories. New census figures based on a fair exercise would prove that the population of Jammu was more than Kashmir. And fresh delimitation of assembly constituencies on the basis of new census figure and laid down criteria would mean more assembly seats for Jammu as compared to Kashmir.
This is the only alternative left to undo the past wrongs and dispense justice to Jammu. To hold elections at this point in time by ignoring the 2019 reforms would only mean injustice with the people of Jammu province – BJP’s core constituency.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.