Delimitation isssue divides Opposition; JKNPP, BJP, JSM walkout

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Jammu, Jan 9 (UNI) The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly today witnessed a divide in the Opposition parties over the issue of proportional 25 per cent increment in the state Assembly constituencies.

The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), Jammu State Morcha (JSM) and BJP staged a walkout, expressing their dissatisfaction over the government's decision of proportional 25 per cent increase of constituencies in both Jammu and Kashmir regions.

But, the main Opposition Party National Conference (NC) was indifferent to the issue and kept silent.

The issue of delimitation was raised by former minister and JKNPP MLA Harsh Dev Singh in the Assembly, saying the government's ''closed door'' decision over increment in the Assembly seats was ''discriminatory''.

Pleading against the government's decision, the discontented MLAs said, ''despite having more voters and large area, Jammu has less representation in the Legislative Assembly than Kashmir region.

And the proportional increase in the number of seats will further widen the disparity (between Jammu and Kashmir regions).'' At present, Jammu has 37 seats in the 87-member Legislative Assembly while Kashmir has 46. With the proposed increase of proportional 25 per cent in seats, Jammu would have 46 members while 58 would represent Kashmir in the Assembly, they said.

It may be recalled that with an amendment in section 47 of the J&K Constitution in 2002 (during NC rule), it has been laid down that ''until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to re-adjust the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly.'' The state cabinet in its meeting on July 6 2006, had decided in principle to increase the strength of elected members of the state Assembly by 25 per cent to be proportionally distributed among Jammu, Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).

However, in its reply to the House, the government has maintained that necessary consultations are being held with the political parties.

NC MLA and Leader of the Opposition A R Rather while keeping himself aside from the Delimitation Commission issue, said it was not prudent on the part of the JKNPP, JSM and BJP MLAs to waste the time of the House by voicing dissatisfaction.

''Instead of shouting in the House, you should introduce a bill,'' Mr Rather said.

UNI VJ SW BD1723

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