In J&K, the BJP opposes the only 2011 census “unbalanced” to redesign the seats
IN ITS representation to the Boundary Commission, which is in Jammu and Kashmir to seek the views of the parties on the exercise, the BJP delegations from Jammu province opposed the redistribution of constituencies on the basis of of the 2011 census alone. A team demanded that the electoral lists be taken into account to determine the populations of the provinces.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, framed by the Modi government following the removal of the special status of J&K, had set the 2011 census as the basis of delimitation.
Former BJP UT minister and general secretary Sunil Sharma said they were opposed to the use of the 2011 census because “a lot of falsification” had been made in its numbers. “As the electoral lists are updated every year, the population ratio must therefore be calculated on their basis,” he said. A BJP delegation from Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts, led by Sharma, raised this demand before the Kishtwar panel.
A separate party delegation led by its UT chairman Ravinder Raina that met the panel in Jammu City said previous delineation exercises had been “unbalanced” in favor of one region, adding that although the census of 2011 had to be the base, it had to be kept in mind. that “illegalities are relevant” in its operations. He suggested using Aadhaar’s data to verify the data of the “artificially inflated population”.
Other parties in Jammu province are already opposed to using the 2011 census to determine the boundary. The census estimated the total population of J&K at 1.22 crore, with 68.88 lakh in Kashmir province and 53.78 lakh in Jammu. Jammu parties claim these figures were falsified in favor of Kashmir.
In comparison, the gap between voters in the two provinces is much smaller: 37.33 lakh voters in Jammu, against 40.10 lakh in Kashmir, according to data presented by the government to Parliament in 2019.
Lawyer Ankur Sharma, president of the right wing IkkJutt Jammu, asks how the population of Jammu grew at a slower rate than that of Kashmir from the 2001 census, despite the large-scale migration of pundits and Sikhs in the valley in Jammu following the rise of activism in the 1990s.
While the population of Kashmir experienced a 26% increase between 2001 and 2011, the increase in Jammu was 21%.
J&K must be the only state or UT to undergo delineation based on the 2011 census. The last readjustment for other states and UT was made on the basis of the 2001 census, and must then be done according to the 2021 census.
J&K last saw a demarcation exercise in 1995.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act provides for a new legislature in the UT with 90 seats, plus 24 reserved for PoK constituencies. This involves seven more constituencies from the previous legislature, with intense speculation these could go to Jammu province. In the outgoing chamber, Jammu had 37 seats and Kashmir 46 (excluding the four from Ladakh, which is now a fully-fledged UT). In the last parliamentary elections, the BJP won 25 seats, all in Jammu.
During his first meeting with J&K parties since the recent abolition of the special statute, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that the delimitation would be the first step towards holding elections on the territory of the Union.
In its representation before the Boundary Commission in Srinagar, the National Conference said that ideally the exercise should have been carried out after the restoration of the state, and asked what would happen in 2026, when the rest of the country will suffer. a delineation after the results of the 2021 Census. While the PDP boycotted the panel, the PMO said the 2011 census should be the guiding framework for the current delineation exercise.
The BJP delegation that met with the Boundary Commission in Jammu City, which included former Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta and former Assembly Speaker Dr Nirmal Singh, also called for the thaw of eight of the 24 Assembly seats reserved for the PoK in order to grant the reservation to the displaced persons of the area, as well as Kashmiri pandits, SCs and STs.
The BJP delegation led by Sunil Sharma argued that uniform population criteria should not be applied to carve out Assembly constituencies in plains and mountainous areas. He pointed to “the vast hilly terrain and the scattered population” in the mountainous regions.
Other delegations that met with the Commission included a representative of displaced minorities from Kashmir, along with top BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, IPS officer Yoginder Kaul and Sardar Prem Singh Raina, chair of the Kashmiri Sikh Displaced Forum. They asked him to reserve five seats in the Assembly for the minorities of Kashmir, in addition to a seat for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The National Conference delegation led by Devender Singh Rana called on the Commission that all parts of the region receive their due.
A delegation from the National Panthers Party called for a fair division of the 90 constituencies between the divisions of Jammu and Kashmir, saying this would lead to public unrest.
Congress leaders stressed that restoration of statehood was paramount to any meaningful delineation.
A delegation from the Apni Party led by Secretary General Vikram Malhotra urged the Boundary Commission to visit remote areas of Pir Panjal in order to involve all stakeholders, and demanded a parliamentary constituency for the region.