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J&K to soon have its MLAs and CM, says Modi, thanks sarpanches for efforts in development

In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said scrapping of Article 370 has ‘freed’ J&K and set it on path of development.

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said that elections in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir will soon be announced once the delimitation process is completed.

“The work of delimitation is on. India is committed to hold an election in the union territory. The process of delimitation will be completed soon and elections will be held. There will be MLAs, a CM who will be elected by the people,” said Modi from the ramparts of the Red Fort in his speech on India’s 74th Independence Day.

J&K assembly currently has 83 seats — 46 in Kashmir and 37 in Jammu. Twenty-four seats are reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 was passed on 6 August last year after the special status of J&K granted under Article 370 was scrapped.

The law says that while the Lok Sabha will have five seats from Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh will have one seat. 

It is essential to redraw constituency boundaries through a delimitation exercise before elections can be held in any state or union territory. 

After delimitation, seven more assembly seats are likely to be added. The Delimitation Commission, mandated to draw and redraw the boundaries of 90 assembly constituencies in the union territory, is expected to submit its report by March 2021.

Also read: Explained: This is what Modi govt has done to scrap Article 370, 35A in Jammu & Kashmir

Article 370 has ‘freed’ J&K

Stressing on how the scrapping of Article 370 has “freed” Jammu and Kashmir and set its path for development, Modi said that this shows the “power of a democratic setup”.

“It has been a year since Ladakh and J&K have been freed from Article 370. This one year has been a significant milestone in the journey for development of Jammu and Kashmir,” the PM said.

“The women, Dalits have been given their rights. This one year is also the year of a life of dignity for the refugees in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

Praise for sarpanches 

At a time when sarpanches (village heads) associated with BJP have been facing fatal attacks by militants in J&K, Modi made a special mention thanking them for “putting in a great effort to ensure progress”.

“I want to thank all the sarpanches across Jammu and Kashmir, who are putting in a great effort to ensure development reaches everyone in the union territory and it progresses along with the rest of the country,” he said.

Modi also mentioned the ‘Back to Village’ programme aimed at “energising panchayats and directing development efforts in rural areas through community participation”.

The Modi government has sanctioned more than Rs 3,000 crore for panchayats across Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh in the last one year.

The villages have already received installments, with some panchayats finding as high as Rs 1 crore directly transferred to their accounts.

According to officials in the J&K administration, the Modi government’s move came in a bid to “empower the sarpanches” and make them more accountable to the people who elect them, and towards their villages.

Ladakh a carbon-free state’ 

Speaking on Ladakh, Modi said that by turning Ladakh into a union territory, the old demand of its people has been met. 

“Ladakh, situated in the heights of the Himalayas, is moving forward today to touch new heights of development,” he said.

“Ladakh now has a central university, a research centre, hotel management courses,” he added.

Modi further said that just as Sikkim has made its mark as an organic state, efforts are being made to make Ladakh a carbon-neutral region.

“Ladakh too is seeing a lot of work done. Ladakh is leading the way and is focusing on becoming carbon-neutral. Just as Sikkim has made its mark as an organic state, efforts are being made to make Ladakh a carbon-neutral region,” he said.

“We are working actively with residents of Ladakh in taking new and innovative ways of development,” he added.

Also read: Not given up Article 370 fight but illogical to ask Modi govt to restore it — Omar Abdullah


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