SRINAGAR — In a significant development, National Conference (NC) on Friday decided against participating in the delimitation exercise ordered by the Government of India for fixing boundaries of Assembly and Parliamentary elections in the newly carved out Union Territory.
Interestingly, the announcement about rejection of delimitation process by NC was made by its chief spokesman and three-time MLA, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, who had locked horns with the party over its silence on the abrogation of Article 370.
“The @JKNC_ will not participate in the delimitation exercise,” NC chief spokesperson, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi said on Twitter. Mehdi, a three-time MLA and a powerful Shia leader, had said a detailed statement of the party over the issue will follow soon.
The Lok Sabha Speaker had nominated NC’s three MPs – Dr Farooq Abdullah, Muhammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd.) Hasnain Masoodi – as Associate Members of the Delimitation Commission. BJP’s Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore are also members of the panel.
With the rejection of the process by NC, BJP would now be a lone party participating in the exercise. In a statement, NC said “participating in this delimitation commission will be tantamount to accepting the events of 5th August 2019.”
“With reference to the recently announced Delimitation Commission by Government of India, Jammu & Kashmir National Conference today rejects this process and its three members of the Parliament will not participate in the said commission,” reads the statement.
The party further said, “This delimitation commission is a product of the J&K Re-organization Act 2019 which JKNC is challenging in and outside Hon’ble SC. Participating in this delimitation Commission will be tantamount to accepting the events of 5th August 2019 which the NC is unwilling to do.”
The party reminded the BJP that it had also voted for an amendment made in the J&K Constitution in 2002 to freeze delimitation exercise till first census after 2026 – that is at least not before 2031.
“According to the Constitution of J&K, the constituencies of J&K were to be delimited in 2026 with rest of the country. The constituencies in the State were last delimited in ‘90s. Thereafter, an amendment was made in the Constitution of J&K, unanimously passed in the State Assembly in which all the regional parties, Congress and BJP voted for this amendment to go with the delimitation with rest of the country in 2026. Therefore, the constitution of the delimitation commission is unwarranted,” the statement added.
It is worthwhile to mention here that it was Farooq Abdullah-led NC government which amended the J&K Constitution to freeze delimitation at least till 2031. The J&K Legislature had amended the Constitution after the Parliament made a similar amendment in the Constitution of India to freeze delimitation of Parliamentary segments till 2031.