Political wannabes have to wait: Assembly polls after delimitation of constituencies

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Srinagar, Feb 27:  Political wannabes might have to wait for some more time as assembly elections in the Union Territory are likely to be deferred till the end of this year or early next year.

Centre has decided to complete the delimitation exercise before starting the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir, sources said.

“Elections will be held only after the delimitation exercise is completed. After delimitation, we have to adjust seven new constituencies in the Union Territory. They have nominated a member for the delimitation commission. We still have to nominate the chairman for the commission. I think it is going to take some time”, said Sunil Sethi, chief spokesman of J&K BJP.

Under the Reorganization Act, the Union Territory of J&K will have an Assembly while Ladakh will not. Under the Act, the number of seats in the Assembly would be increased from 107 to 114 after delimitation.

According to the Delimitation Act, 2002, the Commission appointed by Centre has to have three members –serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court as the chairperson, and the Chief Election Commissioner or Election Commissioner nominated by the CEC and the State Election Commissioner as ex-officio members.

On the request of the Department of Legislative Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora named Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra as his nominee to the proposed Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir.

“Normally the delimitation should be done within six months. If the delimitation commission is constituted, it will take a maximum of six months to complete the exercise. It can be earlier also.  But it requires huge efforts. I can assure you that unnecessary time will not be wasted”, said Sethi.

Chief Electoral Officer, Jammu and Kashmir, Shailendra Kumar said polls are not held under the carpet and whenever Election Commission decides they will announce it.

“I can’t comment on your reports. I can give comments on facts and not hearsay. These things (polls) are not done under the carpet. Whenever Election Commission decides, they will announce it”, he said.

In the erstwhile state Legislative Assembly, BJP was the second largest party with 25 MLAs, all from the Jammu region. Its former ally PDP was the single largest party with 28 seats.  National Conference had 15 and Congress 12 members in the House. Separatist turned pro India leader Sajad Lone led Peoples Conference (PC) had two MLAs while CPIM and PDF had one member each. The rest of the members were independents.

Unlike the past, the chief minister of the UT will be subservient to the Lieutenant Governor (LG). “There shall be a council of ministers consisting of not more than 10 percent of the members in the Legislative Assembly. Chief Minister as the head shall aid and advise LG in the exercise of his functions…” reads the Reorganization Act.

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