Govt to consult political parties before Assembly polls: Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaking in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. (UNI )
Union Home Minister Amit Shah speaking in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. (UNI )

‘Delimitation exercise on verge of completion’

Statehood will be restored after elections

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Mar 30: Union Home Minister Amit Shah today said the Central Government will consult political parties before holding Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir after completion of the exercise for delimitation of Assembly constituencies in the Union Territory.
He made the statement in Lok Sabha while responding to concerns raised by members on Jammu and Kashmir during the discussion on the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill.
Asserting that Delimitation exercise is on the verge of completion, Shah reiterated that once delimitation is completed, the Government will hold Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, he said, consultations will be held with all political parties before conduct of the Assembly elections.
He referred to the holding of Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir followed by Zila Panchayat polls.
“I had made it clear that first Panchayat elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir which will be followed by the Delimitation exercise after which Assembly elections will be held and then J&K’s Statehood will be restored,” the Union Home Minister said, adding the Government has no interest in keeping Jammu and Kashmir under President’s Rule.
During discussion on the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, Opposition members had accused the Government of delaying the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Delimitation Commission has already put its report in public domain and invited claims and objections till March 21. It received large number of objections/suggestions from the political parties, organizations and individuals. The Commission is now scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir on April 4 and 5 to hear public suggestions.
The Commission has its term till May 6 and it is likely to submit final report within the timeline.
The Panel was set up on May 6, 2020 with one-year term which was extended by another year on May 6, 2021. While its term was due to expire on May 6, 2022, it was granted two-month extension to complete the task.
Once the delimitation exercise is completed, the number of Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir will go up from 83 to 90.
Twenty-four seats of the Assembly continue to remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK).
While splitting Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories through the Reorganization Act, the Union Home Ministry had increased Assembly seats of Jammu and Kashmir by seven taking total seats to 114—24 of which are reserved for PoJK while election will be held for 90 seats.
Erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir had 111 seats including 24 reserved for PoJK while elections were held for 87 seats. With creation of Ladakh as Union Territory, four seats of the region were reduced and the Assembly was left with 83 seats. However, with increase of seven seats, J&K UT will have an Assembly of 90 seats. Two women MLAs will be nominated to the House, which was the position earlier also.
In the previous Assembly, Kashmir had 46 seats, Jammu 37 and Ladakh four.
Delimitation of the Assembly constituencies was last held in 1994-95 during the President’s Rule when seats of the erstwhile State Assembly were raised from 76 to 87. Jammu region’s seats were increased from 32 to 37, Kashmir’s from 42 to 46 and Ladakh’s two to four.