Delimitation Commission on JK holds meeting; Singh lashes out at NC members for skipping it

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) The Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir held a meeting here on Thursday that was boycotted by its three associate members belonging to the National Conference, a move that evoked sharp reaction from Union Minister Jitendra Singh who lashed out at the party for its 'duplicity'.

The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, met here to seek suggestions from the associate members on the process of delimitation of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It was attended by Singh, who is an MP from Udmapur, and Jammu MP Jugal Kishore Sharma.

The Lok Sabha Speaker had last year named parliamentarians Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference and Sharma and Singh of the BJP as the panel's associate members from Jammu and Kashmir.

The two associate members told the Delimitation Commission that special attention be given to the difficult terrain while carrying out the delimitation exercise in the Union Territory.

Associate members are lawmakers from their respective states who assist the delimitation panel in redrawing parliamentary and assembly constituencies.

According to an official statement, while the commission had given written intimation to all five associate members on February 5, only Singh and Sharma attended Thursday's meeting.

After the meeting, Singh told reporters that some members didn't turn up at Thursday's meeting and added, 'It's a delimitation exercise, not a platform for political posturing nor does it get registered with the EC.' Later talking to PTI, Singh said the Commission is a constitutionally constituted body.

'Any stand taken against it is itself unconstitutional. When a member refuses to attend the meeting, he is denying the voices of his electorate being heard in this forum,' he said.

'On the one hand, these members stand up in Parliament and say that we should have an elected Legislative Assembly in J-K at the earliest. But when a positive headway is made in that direction, they refuse to cooperate. For this duplicity, they owe an answer to the electorate who have sent them to Parliament,' said Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office.

The National Conference had conveyed to the Commission that its members would not be attending the meeting as the matter had been challenged in the Supreme Court and the entire process was sub-judice.

In the meeting, Singh and Sharma appreciated the commission's efforts and suggested that delimitation of constituencies should be, as far as practicable, for geographically compact areas, the statement said.

They said while delimiting the constituencies, regard should be given to physical features, the existing boundaries of the administrative units, facilities of communication and public convenience.

They also suggested to the panel to give special attention to the difficult terrain while carrying out the delimitation exercise in the Union Territory.

Set up last year, the commission will delimit the constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, and those of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland in accordance with the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002.

Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra is an ex-officio member of the delimitation panel.

Jammu and Kashmir is a Union Territory with provisions for a legislature. At present, it is under central rule. PTI AKV NAB SKL SMN SMN