|Early Times Report|
JAMMU, Aug 13: Panthers Party's demand for establishment of delimitation commission and adequate representation to Jammu in the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly is as justifiable as it is constitutional. It is a fact that Jammu province, which is two-time that of Kashmir in terms of land area and whose terrain is difficult, inaccessible and treacherous and which is also not inferior to Kashmir in terms of voters, has inadequate representation in the assembly, the supreme law-making body, which discusses and decides questions of supreme importance to the well-being and happiness of the people.
It needs to be underlined that Kashmir has 46 assembly segments at the rate of one per 344 sq km on an average. On the contrary, Jammu province has 37 Assembly segments at the rate of one per 710 sq km on an average. This is the root cause of conflict between Kashmir and Jammu. The people of Jammu province always complain that "it is the Kashmir's excessive share of representation in the Assembly which has deprived them of their legitimate due share in the state's political, economic and social processes".
And if one goes by the July 6, 2006 Cabinet decision, which proposed to increase the number of seats by 25 per cent each in Kashmir and Jammu, then it would automatically mean 58 seats for Kashmir, as against the existing 46 seats, at the rate of one per 275.05 sq km and 49,723 voters on an average. In other words, it would mean an increase of 12 seats. As far as Jammu is concerned, it would only get 46 seats, as against the existing 37 seats, at the rate of one per 571.58 sq km and 66,000.52 voters.
The facts speak for themselves. Even a naïve would endorse the demand of the Panthers Party and other non-NC, non-PDP and non-Congress political groups in Jammu province.
However, the problem is that no delimitation could be constituted in Kashmir at least till 2035. For, the February 2002 constitutional amendment which was moved by the Farooq Abdullah government and supported by the Congress, the PDP, the BJP, the CPI-M and the Kashmir-based People's Democratic Front says that there shall be no delimitation of the assembly constituencies till the completion of the 2031 census exercise.
The BJP, which shared with power with the PDP, had the opportunity to get that unconstitutional amendment annulled, but it did nothing in this regard. In fact, it hurt the people of Jammu province by endorsing the Kashmiri stand on delimitation business.
Jammu & Kashmir right now is under the Governor rule. The Governor is now the constitutional and executive head of the state. He is also legislature. He can meet the Jammu's demand. The BJP is in power at the Centre and J&K is under Central rule. It is the most opportune moment to undo the February 2002 constitutional wrong and implement the Jammu & Kashmir Representation of People's Act of 1957.