The wait is finally over. The Delimitation Commission has released a draft paper for the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Seven additional seats have been proposed— six in the Jammu division and one in the Kashmir division. And this could very well pave way for the first Hindu Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, coming from the Jammu division.
The Delimitation Commission has proposed one additional seat each in the districts of Kathua, Samba, Rajouri, Reasi, Doda, and Kishtwar in the Jammu division, and Kupwara in the Kashmir valley.
How numbers stand now
The erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir had 87 seats—37 in Jammu, 46 in Kashmir, and 4 in Ladakh. Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union Territory in the year 2019, and therefore Jammu & Kashmir was left with 83 Assembly seats.
Now, with the proposed delimitation numbers, Jammu & Kashmir will have 90 Assembly seats— 43 in the Jammu division and 47 in the Kashmir division.
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The new delimitation numbers are based on the 2011 Census. According to the 2011 census, the total population of the Jammu Division was 53,78,538 of which Dogras were the dominant group comprising 62.55 per cent of the population. Jammu has 25.93 per cent of the area and 42.89 per cent of the population. Against this, the Kashmir Division population in 2011 was 68,88,475 with 96.40 per cent Muslims. Though it has 15.73 per cent of the state’s area, it holds 54.93 per cent of the population.
Jammu finally getting its due
Politics in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir was always Valley-centric. After accession to India, the State Constituent Assembly was constituted under Maharaja’s Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, but Sheikh Abdullah’s administration arbitrarily carved out 30 seats for the Jammu region and 43 seats for the Kashmir region, and two seats for the Ladakh region.
The disproportionate allocation of seats was carried forward in the following delimitations. And the political atmosphere in the state has never been conducive towards the idea of a Hindu CM coming from Jammu. In 1983, Hindus won a majority of seats on Congress ticket from Jammu, however, the party chose Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari— the only Muslim who won on a Congress ticket from the Valley.
When it comes to development, Jammu has always received step-motherly treatment. An immense amount of tax collected from the region is spent on Kashmir. People lack even basic amenities like good hospitals, good roads and infrastructure. People of the region had to fight and protest to get a university, AIIMS, IIT, IIM etc. Moreover, they are always discriminated against in the allocation of government jobs and education.
In the year 2015, out of 125 selections made in the State Medical Department, only 23 were from Jammu, only 2 lecturers were selected from the Jammu region out of 15 selections that were made in the State Medical College.
According to Daily Excelsior, in one of the worst cases of hostile discrimination in the year 2016, in the selection made in the Higher Education Department as an assistant professor, 9 candidates from the Jammu region were selected against the 34 selections made (which is 26 per cent), 7 candidates were selected against a total of 26 in Physics discipline (which is 27 per cent), and 12 in Mathematics against total 25 selected (which is 48 per cent).
How can BJP get a Hindu CM elected for Jammu & Kashmir?
Presently, Jammu & Kashmir is a Union Territory, but as Union Home Minister Amit Shah had promised, statehood could be restored soon after delimitation, which will be followed by elections.
Since BJP has propagated a pro-nationalism ideology and has also managed to mount an unprecedented assault against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, it can expect to win a lion’s share out of the 43 seats in the Jammu division.
Assuming that the party wins a majority of seats in the Jammu division, BJP also needs to ensure that it can win a few seats in the Kashmir division. Despite all the propaganda and fear-mongering by the regional parties, BJP must convince local voters, if it wants to win any upcoming elections in Jammu & Kashmir on its own without any coalition arrangement.
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A Hindu CM for Jammu & Kashmir is close to becoming a reality, and this is going to correct a history of injustice that people of the Jammu division have faced.
Irony is since the independence Jammu and Kashmir never had a CM from Hindu (minority community in the state) but nobody bother about it and media doesn’t even cares about it because according to them Hindus doesn’t count a humans at all. If same has been the case for Muslims, that would become the world wide issue.