Narendra Modi govt considering J&K delimitation to curtail Valley's decades of dominance over Jammu

  • The number of seats in the Jammu region from could go up, possibly ending seven decade dominance of the Valley

  • There could also be changes to the structure of the service officials of and the service rules that govern them

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act nullifies Farooq Abdullah government’s decision to freeze delimitation

The speed with which Narendra Modi government 2.0 moved in last three days of first session of Parliament on the abolition of the contentious articles 370, 35-A of the Constitution and bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir has been discussed at length. The issue is still being debated at various forums and will continue to be so. After all, this is perhaps the biggest and most contentious decision taken since 1954.

Sources told Firstpost while the move is, beyond a doubt, historic, it is the Modi government's move to create two Union Territories (UTs) — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh — that will deliver its intended benefits. It is important to understand how the creation of UTs changes the administrative structure in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and brings accountability in a system that has been mired in nepotism, favoritism and corruption.

 Narendra Modi govt considering J&K delimitation to curtail Valleys decades of dominance over Jammu

File image of Home Minister Amit Shah. PTI

Sources said the Valley-centric political leadership worked with the singular focus of keeping intact the dominance of Valley over Jammu and Ladakh. Home Minister Amit Shah was not wrong in asserting in both Houses of Parliament that under the provisions of the Constitution and practices followed in the former state it was all about whims and welfare of “three families” and “their clients”.

Since Jammu and Kashmir is now a UT, transfer of UT cadre officials from other parts of the country to Jammu and Kashmir — or vice-versa— could be coming down the pike. Which would take care of the "vested interests". And since such officials would be near the top of the administrative hierarchy, they would be able to bring the required changes.

There could also be changes to the structure of the service officials of  and the service rules that govern them. Even as they remain within the former state, shifting of officials from the Valley to Jammu — or vice-versa — could make an impact. The government is examining the matter and is in the midst of formulating a policy. However, the most important feature of a UT would be that the chief minister at the helm would have limited powers — like that in Delhi and Puducherry — with Lieutenant Governor as the administrative head.

But for that to happen, elections will have to take place after completion of delimitation process carried out by Election Commission of India. Chapter V of The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 deals with “delimitation of Constituencies”. Under the new provision, the number of seats in the Assembly of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir would go from 107 to 114 and “delimitation of the constituencies may be determined by the Election Commission in the manner hereinafter provided — (a) the number of seats to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly, having regard to the relevant provisions of the Constitution”. The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has not had reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The Act further says “readjustment of the constituencies as provided under section 60 in the successor Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir into Assembly Constituencies, shall be carried by the Delimitation Commission, to be constituted under the Delimitation Act, 2002 as amended by this Act, and shall take effect from such date as the Central Government may, by order, published in the Official Gazette, specify any reference to the “latest census figures” in this Part shall be construed as a reference to the 2011 census figures.”

It should be noted that when Delimitation Act 2002 was to be brought into effect, the Farooq Abdullah government froze delimitation until 2026 by amending the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act 1957 and Section 47(3) of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir. This effectively meant that next delimitation exercise could only take place after 2030 or later.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act nullifies Farooq Abdullah government’s decision. Which would obviously would hurt both the Abdullah and Mufti families and their parties.

As per this Firstpost piece, “Kashmir has an upper hand in the political arena, over Jammu and Ladakh, because it has 46 seats in the Assembly, as compared to only 37 seats in Jammu region and four in Ladakh. This means that any and every political dispensation, with a majority in the Kashmir Valley, makes for a Kashmir-centric politics, and dominance of the region in various spheres.”

That is going to change. It is believed that after fresh delimitation, the number of seats in the Jammu region from could go up, possibly ending seven decade dominance of the Valley in the political and administrative setup.

Updated Date: Aug 11, 2019 13:30:48 IST