Srinagar: Instigating a stand-off, National Conference (NC) has said it will not be part of the delimitation commission announced by the central government to redraw parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in the newly-created union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
In a statement, the region's grand-old party said it "rejects the process" and its three members, who were nominated by the Lok Sabha speaker on May 26 as "associate members" of the Delimitation Commission, will not participate in the exercise.
“This delimitation commission is a product of the J&K Re-organization Act, 2019 which JKNC is challenging in and outside Hon’ble SC. Participating in this delimitation Commission will be tantamount to accepting the events of Aug 5, 2019, which the NC is unwilling to do,” the party spokesperson said.
The party, while quoting the erstwhile constitution of J&K, said that the constituencies of J&K were to be delimited in 2026 with the rest of the country. "The constituencies in the state were last delimited in ‘90s. Thereafter an amendment was made in the constitution of J&K unanimously passed in the state Assembly in which all the regional parties, Congress and BJP voted for this amendment to go with the delimitation with rest of the country in 2026. Therefore, the constitution of the delimitation commission is unwarranted,” the statement added.
All five Lok Sabha MPs from Jammu and Kashmir — three from National Conference and two from BJP — have been nominated as “associate members” of the Delimitation Commission to assist the panel in redrawing parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in the newly-created union territory.
Amongst those nominated for the commission included Member of Parliament from Srinagar constituency and former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, who was released from over seven months of detention in March. Anantnag MP Hasnain Masoodi and Baramulla MP Akbar Lone, both from NC, have also been nominated for the panel.
Union Minister and Udhampur MP Jitendra Singh and Jammu-Poonch MP Jugal Kishore Sharma from the BJP are two other leaders nominated for the commission.
Like NC, former BJP ally and NC's regional rival People’s Democratic Party (PDP) also rejected the exercise of delimitation in the region terming it "illegal and undemocratic" in the backdrop of party's stand on the abrogation of Article 370 and subsequent downsizing of the erstwhile state of J&K into two union territories.
"We have maintained that that the decision to introduce the J&K Reorganisation Act was undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional and hence, subsequent exercises, whether it is the introduction of domicile law or delimitation process, are also undemocratic and unconstitutional," PDPs spokesperson Suhail Bukhari told NewsClick.
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Terming J&K Reorganisation Act as as the "mother of all problems", Bukhari said that the party "rejects" the exercise and will "resist" it. "Our stand stand is clear, we do not accept the process and will fight it by all peaceful, democratic means," he added.
According to the J&K Reorganisation Act, the number of seats in the legislative Assembly of J&K are to be increased from 83 to 90 after the reduction of number of seats from Ladakh region which is a separate UT now.
Following the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year, scores of politicians including ground workers and top leadership of all major political parties in the region were arrested, in what was seen as a major political onslaught carried out by BJP against regional parties to thwart any attempts of opposition to the central government's move. Many were released after months; many among them, however, continue to remain incarcerated even today including former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti of PDP and NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, suspending most political activity in the region.
The BJP led government at the Centre constituted the panel on March 6, to be headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai tasked to redraw Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
Censuring the NC's decision, BJP spokesperson in Kashmir, Altaf Thakur, told NewsClick that the party is sticking to the past by not participating in the process. "National Conference is resorting to traditional politics of exploitation which has been at the core of all regional parties. They should be part of this process to promote the politics of equality, if they believe in it," Thakur told NewsClick.
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