BJP, Panthers Seek Delimitation, End To Art 37018 January 2011
Udhampur: The issue of delimitation of parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir has resurfaced with the interlocutors assuring 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 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. Meanwhile, the interlocutors interacted with people from different sections of the society here on Tuesday. The team met representatives of different political parties including National Panther Party, Indian National Congress, National Conference, Bhartiya Janta Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Jammu State Morcha, Advisory Board Members and Peoples Democratic Party. They also met various social organizations. Panthers Party delegation was led by its State unit president Balwant Singh Mankotia. He submitted a 17-point charter of suggestions to the team. Mankotia, an MLA, suggested to the interlocutors reorganisation of the state on the basis of languages, culture and geography for effective development of all the regions of the state. He said his party favoured separate Chief Ministers, separate assemblies, separate secretariats, separate Public Service Commissions, separate recruitment boards and separate planning boards. The BJP delegation called for abrogation of Article 370 of the constitution giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir and favoured creation of regional councils. The NC delegation, meanwhile, wanted greater autonomy for the state. Earlier, the interlocutors were received at PWD dak bungalow, Udhampur by Deputy Inspector General of Police, Udhampur- Reasi Range, Jagjit Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, Baseer Ahmed Khan and Senior Superintendent of Police, Surinder Gupta.