New Delhi: After the appointment of former Union Minister Manoj Sinha as the new Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP is now hoping for an early completion of the delimitation exercise in the union territory, not based on the 2011 Census but on 2001 Census, said J&K former deputy chief minister and BJP leader Nirmal Singh.
In an interview to ThePrint, Singh said that the 2011 Census was faulty and there were many anomalies in it.
“Census of 2011 was faulty. The population of Jammu region was shown to be lower than the Valley in that census. The population of Kashmir was shown to have increased by 14 lakh in 10 years from 2001 to 2011 (in the 2011 Census). The average population growth of Jammu region between 1971 to 2001 was 31 per cent, which was shown to have dropped to 21 per cent in 2011 (census),” he added.
“If we choose 2011 as the base year for the delimitation, it will be an injustice to the Jammu region, and it will also be faulty. The 2001 Census was more reasonable compared to the 2011 Census,” added Singh, who was the deputy CM during the PDP-BJP alliance government.
J&K currently has 83 assembly seats, but after delimitation, seven more seats are likely to be added.
According to the 2011 Census, the population in Kashmir is 68,88,475 and in Jammu, it is 53,78,538. However, according to the Modi government’s data presented in the Lok Sabha last year, Jammu has 37,33,111 voters and Kashmir has 40,10,971.
Delimitation was last done in J&K in 1995. It is an act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and the assembly seats. Under this exercise, the number of seats allocated to various states/UTs in the Lok Sabha and the total number seats in a Legislative Assembly may also change.
The Centre in March this year constituted a Delimitation Commission to redraw the constituencies in the UT, besides other Northeastern states.
The BJP move for delimitation is to give more assembly seats to Jammu, which can then influence the selection of the UT’s chief minister.
In the 2014 assembly election, the BJP had won 25 assembly seats in J&K, its highest ever, and all from the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.
Statehood is a ‘strategic’ decision
Asked about the statehood demand, Singh told ThePrint it has already been announced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi in the Parliament last year, but without restoring normalcy, it will not serve any purpose.
“Political atmosphere should be conducive. Although it is a strategic decision, which the Centre has to take, it will have to consider various factors before giving statehood. What will happen if you give statehood and other parties don’t honour that decision? So the first step is dialogue, which the new L-G will initiate to restore normalcy,” Singh said.
Rename Srinagar airport after Maqbool Sherwani
Singh said for normalcy to return in the Valley, the party needs to show development works done by the administration and the new L-G.
“There are various development projects, which need to be completed in a time-bound manner. But one or two big-ticket announcements should be made. We want the Srinagar airport to be named after Maqbool Sherwani (National Conference leader). Kashmir is a part of India due to Maqbool Sherwani. Jammu airport should be named after Hari Singh, the Dogra king. It will send a good message of peace and harmony among people,” he added.
“Development work will create faith among people and people’s involvement in the development work will end the gun culture, which is required for elections to take place,” Singh said.
Srinagar airport is currently named after Sheikh Ul-Alam, a Sufi saint born in Kulgam district in 1377, but the BJP wants to rename it after Maqbool Sherwani, a Kashmiri youth who had single-handedly thwarted the advance of thousands of invaders from Pakistan to give precious time to the Indian Army to land in Srinagar to fight the war in 1947, a few months after India attained Independence.
The Jammu municipal corporation has already passed a resolution in March this year to rename the Jammu airport after Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra king who acceded to India in 1947, and a local university after Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of the Dogra dynasty.