PDP to shun J&K's delimitation exercise; says 'outcome pre-planned'
The People's Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday said that it will stay away from the delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir as the same has been "pre-planned." The statement came on the day that the Delimitation Commission reached Srinagar in J&K for a four-day visit. The commission will speak to political parties and officials to draw new electoral constituencies in the erstwhile state.
The PDP—which is led by former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti—wrote to the head of the commission, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai. The delimitation process is aimed at disempowering the people of J&K and realizing the "political vision of a particular political party." "It is a widespread belief...the exercise is a mere formality. The very intent is under question," the letter said.
The letter further said, "There are apprehensions that the process is aimed at realizing the political vision of a particular political party in J&K wherein, like other things, the views and wishes of the people of J&K would be considered least."
The Centre had formed Delimitation Commission last March, six months after the special status of the erstwhile state of J&K was repealed in August 2019. The state was also split into two union territories: J&K (with a Legislative Assembly) and Ladakh (without one). The delimitation of the constituencies in J&K was to be held in 2026.
The J&K Reorganisation Act—through which the state was bifurcated—increased the number of polling constituencies from 87 to 90. The Delimitation Commission will also create constituencies for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in a first for J&K. It has nine months to finalize the process.
PDP General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura said that the people of J&K were "humiliated and demeaned" after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A on August 5, 2019. He said the Centre's actions to downgrade and bifurcate a 200-year-old state were "unconstitutional." Hanjura said, "We're of the considered opinion that the Delimitation Commission lacks legal and constitution mandate in the first place."
On June 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held an all-party meeting with political leaders from J&K. However, leaders of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration—a group of major political parties including the PDP to restore J&K's special status—were not satisfied with the meeting. The group had demanded the restoration of J&K's statehood, which Modi said will happen "at the right time."