The long-pending issue of delimitation of parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir has come to the fore with the government-appointed interlocutors promising the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders that they will take up the matter with the Election Commission.
The matter was raised by leaders of the BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, who met the interlocutors for the first time here Monday.
The issue has been raised time and again by political leaders of Jammu who feel that the number of parliamentary and assembly seats was less than that of Kashmir despite their region having a larger area and an almost equal population, if not more, than the Valley.
Jammu region has two Lok Sabha seats as compared to three of the Valley. Ladakh region has the sixth seat.
In the 87-member state assembly, Jammu has 37 seats, while Kashmir has 46. Ladakh has the remaining four.
BJP leaders, particularly its state unit president Shamsher Singh Manhas, told the three interlocutors – journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and former information commissioner M.M. Ansari – that this was the “greatest source of discrimination with Jammu region”.
Manhas described it as a “denial of political empowerment of the region”.
To this, Padgaonkar said they would “write to the chief election commissioner seeking details on the criteria adopted for delimitation of the constituencies”.
The point was also made forcefully by co-chairman and leader of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party Harshdev Singh.
Sources close to the interlocutors said the issue would be mentioned prominently in the report to be submitted to the home ministry at the conclusion of this visit.