The delimitation commission has sought feedback from district magistrates, census commissioner and chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), as it redraws the assembly constituencies of the newly formed Union territory.
“The district magistrates will know the problems of the locals better,” a person familiar with the developments said on condition of anonymity. “Many have suggested better demarcation of constituencies to ensure equitable access for everyone. It shouldn’t be that people have to travel long distances if they want to vote.”
The delimitation commission — set up by the government in March 2020 — met representatives of all major political parties in Srinagar in July, except the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which boycotted the process.
The panel is headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai and includes chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra. The commission will be redrawing assembly segments based on the 2011 census, and has nearly nine months left to do so.
It will also carve out reserved constituencies for the first time in the region, and add seven new constituencies. The panel met several stakeholders in the union territory earlier this year to assess the needs of constituents.
The commission has sought feedback regarding discrepancies in demarcating areas of present constituencies. “In Dodha and Kishtwar, the commission felt that the areas were not depicted properly in the present map. To be able to carve new constituencies will require that the areas are properly marked on the map,” said the person cited above.
The district officials are expected to get back to the commission with details of whether or not new constituencies are required in their area, the infrastructure problems, including issues of accessible roads, and other difficulties faced by the electors.
“The visit to J&K to interact with the people, officials and political stakeholders has greatly benefited the commission,” the person said. “The commission has also sought feedback regarding each representation it has received to evaluate their implementation.”
The commission will for the first time circulate its final proposal for public feedback once it is drawn up.
The commission redrawing poll constituencies in J&K has received at least 290 representations from political parties and stakeholders, ranging from unfreezing 24 seats in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, postponing the exercise till after statehood is restored and ensuring every region gets its due, HT reported on August 5, citing documents and people familiar with developments.
The unfreezing of constituencies is beyond the “ambit of the commission’s mandate”, the person said.