Delimitation Commission meets to finalise J&K plans

New Delhi: The Delimitation Commission held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss plans regarding delimitation of the 90 assembly constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir where the Centre wants to conduct assembly polls — a move taken six days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an all-party meeting with 14 Jammu and Kashmir leaders of different political parties here.

The internal meeting of the Delimitation Commission, chaired by Justice Ranjana Desai (Retd) and Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, started at 11 a.m. The commission is tasked with redrawing parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting was organised a week after the Election Commission held a virtual discussion with its representatives in Jammu and Kashmir and Deputy Commissioners regarding the delimitation process in the region.

The meeting was attended by Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer along with other officials of the poll panel.

It is learnt that the commission is expected to finalise its plans after consultations with political parties very soon.

The three-member Delimitation Commission headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai was set up in March 2020 for a year. Later, the panel got a one-year extension from the Central government on March 3 this year as it could not complete its work within the allotted time of one year.

It is expected that a date will be announced in the meeting regarding a full meeting of the Delimitation Commission, including the associate members like Lok Sabha MPs from Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference, which has won all the three Lok Sabha seats from the Kashmir Valley had decided to opt-out from the proceedings stating that there was no need to redraw the constituencies at this stage.

Even so, there are indications that the party is reconsidering and has authorised Abdullah to decide whether to participate in the deliberations of the commission.

Prime Minister Modi on June 24 all-party meeting with Jammu and Kashmir leader had said that the ongoing delimitation exercise in the UT needs to happen quickly so that assembly polls can be held in the region which will further strengthen its development trajectory and will pave way to declare full statehood there.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 notified by the government on August 9, 2019, paved the way for the creation of two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir with an assembly and Ladakh without one.

The Act provides that the number of seats in the legislative assembly of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114, and delimitation of the constituencies will be determined by the Election Commission.

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