Population is main criterion, says Chief Election Commissioner
SRINAGAR: At the end of their meetings with stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir, members of the J&K Delimitation Commission on Friday said that the commission will act in a fair and transparent manner on redrawing electoral constituencies in the region.
Talking to reporters, Chief Election Commissioner of India Sushil Sushil Chandra, an ex-officio member of the commission, said that the members held meetings in Srinagar, Pahalgam, Kishtwar and Jammu. He said that stakeholders were even heard up to 10:30 pm because of the overwhelming response from them to the commission.
“Nothing has been pre-planned. Before starting the exercise, we want to take on board the views of all persons. Apprehensions in the mind of any person, if at all, should go away,” he said.
A draft, he said, would be prepared by the commission and laid out in the public domain for objections and queries. Associate members of the commission will also be consulted when preparing the final draft, he added.
The J&K Delimitation Commission is headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai and includes Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and State Election Commissioner (SEC) KK Sharma. They met political leaders on July 6 and July 7 in Kashmir, and delegates in Jammu on July 8 and July 9.
Chandra said that multiple criteria would be taken into consideration for redrawing the constituencies, but population would be the main. He said that attention must be given to the geographical area, topographical difficulties, communication challenges, and public convenience.
“It is not an arithmetical exercise. We are here to know the genuine concerns of the public and the genuine difficulties of the public,” he said.
“We will keep in mind the Census of 2011. As per the Delimitation Act, we have to go by the latest census available,” he added.
Chandra also said that the first full-fledged delimitation commission was formed in 1981 which could submit its recommendation only after 14 years in 1995. But given the expansion of the administrative set-up, he said, redrawing constituencies has become imperative. In 1995, he said, there were 12 districts, a number which has gone up to 20 now, while the number of tehsils has gone up from 58 to 270 since then.
“In 12 districts, constituency boundaries have extended beyond the district’s limit. There is an overlapping of districts as well as of tehsils. All such facts indicate that the public faces inconvenience due to such anomalies,” he said. “Taking all the demands and recommendations into account, a draft will be prepared and put in the public domain for comments. After seeing all the comments, the final draft will be prepared.”