The Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday clarified that there was no proposal under its consideration for a delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir. The clarification comes a day after reports claimed that Home Minister Amit Shah has set up a commission to take forward the delimitation of assembly seats in Jammu region. The ministry has clarified that there is no such proposal on the table and no discussions on the matter have taken place at the level of the government.
The state is divided into three divisions — Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. The most populous region is Kashmir followed by Jammu. The people from Jammu have been complaining that the current seat compositions are heavily in favour of Kashmir. As per the 2011 Census, Jammu has a total population of over 53 lakh which is close to 43% of the state. It has 37 assembly constituencies in 87-member House.
Kashmir has over 68.5 lakh population which accounts for close to 55% of the total population. However, it has 46 assembly seats in the Legislative Assembly. The Ladakh region has four seats for a population of 2.7 lakh.
While the BJP and Congress have dominance in the Jammu and Ladakh regions, regional parties — PDP and NC maintain a commanding position in Kashmir. The state’s politics has traditionally had dominance of the parties that perform well in Kashmir.
As per the rule, the delimitation exercise should be carried out after every 10 years, meaning after every Census. But in Jammu and Kashmir, which has a separate Constitution, the delimitation exercise couldn’t be carried out in the last two decades due to opposition by PDP and NC. The last time when delimitation exercise was carried out in the state was in 1995. The next such exercise was due in 2005 but then CM and NC leader Farooq Abdullah changed the state’s Constitution and froze it until 2026. During Ghulam Nabi Azad’s term as Chief Minister (November 2005 to 11 July 2008), he had recommended a proposal of 25% all round increase in the number of Assembly seats in all the three regions. This would have resulted in an additional 22 seats in the Legislative Assembly. But the Congress and its ruling partner PDP did not have the two-thirds majority in the House and thus the proposal was blocked. Also, the National Conference of Farooq Abdullah had opposed it.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under President’s Rule since December 18, 2018. This is likely to be extended beyond July 3. The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that is closely monitoring the situation in the state and take inputs from all necessary quarters and after the conclusion of Amarnath Yatra will announce the election schedule.