Nearly a fortnight after its maiden visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the Delimitation Commission has started working on a draft report on the proposed new shape of assembly constituencies that will be shared with its associate members before being put in the public domain, officials here said on Sunday.
The commission headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai had visited the union territory from July 6 to 9. The commission also comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra as an ex-officio member and the Jammu and Kashmir electoral officer. The officials said the commission will compile the data received from deputy commissioners and nearly 290 delegations comprising 800 representatives of political parties and people from other walks of life whom its members met during their visit.
A draft report will be prepared using these inputs and it will be shared with the associate members, which include three Lok Sabha members from the National Conference — Farooq Abdullah, Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone — and the BJP”s Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma.
The National Conference had boycotted the first meeting of the commission. The officials said that after sharing the draft report, the Delimitation Commission will hold a meeting with the associate members to obtain their views before putting out the final draft for seeking public comments and challenges on redrawing of the boundaries.
They said the commission is also looking at some districts where the jurisdictional boundaries can be realigned as the electoral constituency comprises segments from two districts. The delimitation exercise has attained an urgency amid indications that the Centre is keen to hold early assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. There is speculation that the polls could be held in the next six to nine months.
The commission has time till March 6 next year to redraw the boundaries and create new constituencies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last month held a meeting with leaders of mainstream political parties from Jammu and Kashmir where he stressed that the delimitation exercise has to happen quickly so that polls can be held in the UT.
Once the delimitation exercise is completed, the number of assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir will go up from 83 to 90. Twenty-four seats of the assembly continue to remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoJK).