Srinagar: Three days after its MPs were nominated as associate members of the Delimitation Commission, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference has said it will not participate in the exercise, as doing so would be “tantamount to accepting the events of 5 August 2019”.
That was the day when the Narendra Modi government scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special powers under Article 370 of the Constitution, and bifurcated the state into two union territories.
The government constituted the Delimitation Commission on 6 March under the leadership of retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, to redraw the boundaries of the Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in J&K, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
Then, on 26 May, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla nominated the three Kashmir MPs from the National Conference, including its chief Farooq Abdullah, and the two Bharatiya Janata Party MPs from Jammu as associate members to assist the commission.
Of the six seats in the erstwhile state, one has now gone to the newly-created union territory of Ladakh. And since J&K currently has no legislative assembly, having been dissolved after the PDP-BJP coalition government fell last year, MPs had to be inducted into the commission.
Challenging J&K Reorganisation Act in SC
In its Friday statement, the NC said: “With reference to the recently announced Delimitation Commission announced by the government of India, Jammu & Kashmir National Conference today rejects this process and its three members of Parliament will not participate in the said commission.
“This delimitation commission is a product of the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, which JKNC is challenging in and outside Hon’ble Supreme Court. Participating in this delimitation Commission will be tantamount to accepting the events of 5 August 2019, which the NC is unwilling to do,” it continued.
The party pointed out that according to the separate constitution of J&K allowed under Article 370, the constituencies were to be delimited in 2026 with the rest of the country. It said an amendment to the J&K constitution to this effect was passed by the state assembly, and that the regional parties, the Congress and the BJP had voted for it.
“Therefore, the constitution of the delimitation commission is unwarranted,” the NC added.
Strongest statement on scrapping of Article 370
The NC’s statement is by far its boldest one yet on the scrapping of Article 370. The party had been receiving flak for remaining silent, not only from its fellow regional parties, but also from its own chief spokesperson and three-time MLA Aga Ruhullah.
Ruhullah had raised concern over the NC’s silence, despite the release of its president Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah in March.
While Farooq Abdullah had said he will talk on political issues after the release of other political detainees, Omar Abdullah had said the priority was to first fight the Covid-19 pandemic.