Taking forward the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the delimitation commission has invited leaders of all national, regional and registered political parties of Jammu and Kashmir for separate meetings during its visit to the Union Territory next week, officials said here on Friday. The commission led by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra may also hold separate meetings with civil society groups and similar organisations after they obtain prior approval and time slots through their respective deputy commissioners (DCs).
The commission will undertake a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir from July 6-9 and will interact with leaders of political parties and officials to gather “first hand” inputs on the conduct of the mega exercise to carve out new constituencies there. The prime minister, during the June 24 meeting with 14 leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, had said the ongoing delimitation exercise has to happen quickly so that polls can be held to install an elected government that gives strength to its development trajectory.
In a series of tweets after a three-and-a-half-hour-long meeting with the leaders that included four former chief ministers, the prime minister said, “Our priority is to strengthen grassroots democracy in JK. Delimitation has to happen at a quick pace so that polls can happen and JK gets an elected government that gives strength to JK’s development trajectory.” The delimitation, therefore, has attained an urgency amid indications that the Centre is keen to hold early assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. There is speculation that the polls could be held in the next six to nine months. Officials said the commission, during its visit next week, has asked the chief electoral officer of the state to ensure that representatives of each registered, national and regional political party is provided a separate time slot so that separate discussions can be held with each one of them.
The commission will be interacting with the political parties and their leaders in Srinagar on July 6 and those in Jammu on July 8. The three-member commission, with the JK CEO being the third member, will also have separate interactions with the DCs, they said.
A statement from the delimitation commission had earlier said that during the visit, it will interact with political parties, public representatives and Union Territory administration officials including district election officers/deputy commissioners of 20 districts to gather first-hand information and inputs concerning the ongoing process of delimitation as mandated under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. It had said that the commission expected that all stakeholders will “cooperate” in this endeavour and provide valuable suggestions so that the task of delimitation is completed timely.
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 Kashmir (PoK).
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