A New Legislative Map?

If the draft proposals by the 3-member Delimitation Commission are accepted, this is going to be the new map of post-2019 democratic set-up, reports Masood Hussain

In its draft report that the Ranjana Prakash Desai led Delimitation Commission has shared with the Associate Members (read members of parliament from Jammu and Kashmir), the 3-member body has gone ahead with its recommendation of increasing six berths in the Jammu region and one in Kashmir province. Now Kashmir will have 47 berths in the 90-member house (excluding 24 seats reserved for areas on the other side of the LoC) and Jammu 43.

Prior to the 2019 reorganisation, Jammu and Kashmir had an 87-member house including 4 berths from Ladakh. Now it will have 90 members excluding Ladakh, a separate Union Territory without a legislature. As per the draft proposals, there are 10 assembly segments, three of them in Kashmir, and seven in Jammu, where the population is less than one lakh souls. The Commission has used the 2011 population in its calculations.

Reserved Seats

In the 90-member house, 16 berths shall remain reserved – 9 for Scheduled Tribes (ST) including three in Kashmir; and seven for Scheduled Castes (SC), all in Jammu. Seats reserved for STs include Gurez, Larnoo, Kangan (in Kashmir) and Mahore, Darhal, Thana Mandi, Surankote, Poonch Haveli, and Mendhar (in Jammu). Jammu seats reserved for SCs include Ramnagar, Kathua South, Ramgarh, Bishnah, RS Pora, Marh, and Aknoor.

The constituencies have been reorganised and, in many cases, are not in coterminous with the existing administrative divisions. Instances of tehsils being divided between two constituencies and a constituency falling in two different districts are visible. A number of names have ceased to exist as the title of the constituencies in Srinagar and in Jammu.

New Segments

Of the seven new assembly berths, the only one new set-up is in Kupwara. It will be in Trehgam. Its geographic areas include tehsils of Trehgam and Keran and parts from Kralpora and Kupwara tehsils like Gulgam and Awoora.

Of the six segments carved out as new segments in the Jammu region are Padder in Kishtwar, Doda West in Doda district, Udhampur East in Udhampu, Kathua South in Kathua, Thanmandi in Rajouri and Ramnagar in Samba district.

Names Binned

There are a number of constituencies, which have ceased to carry the title names as Jammu and Kashmir knew them, so far. In most of these cases, their boundaries have been recast. There are 19 such segments whose names have been obliterated and the areas have been split, changed and annexed to new and existing segments.

In Baramulla, Sangrama has ceased to exist as the name. The areas falling in this segment have been added to Tangmarg, a constituency that was earlier known as Gulmarg. Kunzar is the new segment that will have Kawarhama, Kunzar tehsils and Wanigam Payeen, Tilgam, Tapper, and Hamray from Pattan tehsil.

Wachi in the Shopian district is no more. It will now be called Zainpora, which is a tehsil.

In Kulgam district Homshalibugh has ceased to exist. Now the three assembly constituencies in the district are Damhal Hanjipora (comprising the tehsils of Damhal Hanjipora and Pahloo); Kulgam (comprising Kulgam and Yaripora tehsils) and Devsar (Qaimoh, Frisal and Devsar tehsils).

In Anantnag, two-segment names have ceased to exist – Shangus and Kokernag.

In the Srinagar district, four names will not be called now as these titles of the constituencies have been dropped – Zadibal, Haba Kadal, Amira Kadal and Batamaloo. The areas in all these constituencies have been distributed in re-organised constituencies. Voters from Habba Kadal are expected to be part of at least three assembly seats in the new proposed realignment of constituencies.

These changes have also been witnessed in the Jammu region in the draft report by the Delimitation Commission. In Kishtwar, Inderwal has ceased to exist as the title of the constituency. In the Reasi district, two names have been dropped in the re-organisation – Gulabgarh and Gool Arnas.

In Jammu, certain names have been dropped as the title of the constituencies. These include Bishnah, Suchetgarh, Nagrota and Gandhinagar. In Rajouri, Kalakote will not be a single name of the constituency as the Commission has named it as Kalakote-Sunderbani.

New Names

At the same time, however, new names of the constituencies have been suggested by the Commission. In Baramulla, Rafiabad is now Rohama-Rafiabad, which comprises Zangheer, Watergam, Rohama, and Dangiwacha. Since Gulmarg and Sangrama have ceased to exist and in their place, Tangmarg and Kunzar have emerged as the new title of reorganised segments.

The new title names in Srinagar are South Srinagar, Chanpora, Zoonimar and Central Shaltening. Zainpora in the Shopian district is the new Wachi.

In the Anantnag district, the new title names that have emerged include Larnoo, reserved for ST, Anantnag East, and Anantnag West. Areas that will make the Larnoo segment include tehsils of Larnoo, Kokernag parts (excluding Behie, Oli Bamdoora, Akingam, Sangam, Nagam, and Shangus (Chak Lilipora, Chaturgund, and Utrusu).

Anantnag West will include Qazigund tehsil, Khanabl, Rohu, Uranhal, LG Pora, Kandi Pahari, KG Raina, Nipora, Hardow Sichaen, Kamad, Shaibabad, Aimoo – all parts of Anantnag tehsil.

Anantnag East will comprise Tohoil, Shangus tehsil excluding Chaklipora, Chatrugul, and Utrusru.

In Kishtwar, Mughalmaidan has emerged as the new name and possibly it might be the reorganised Inderwal.

In Reasi, the new names of the constituencies are Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and Mahore, the latter reserved for STs. The new names from Udhampur are Udhampur West and Udhampur East. The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Constituency has been carved out by taking together Katra tehsil, Bhomag tehsil, part of Reasi tehsil and Panchayats of Bhabar Brahmna, Bhaga Kotli and Kotli Bajalian. It will be numerically a smaller constituency with 23 per cent of its voters from SC and 15 per cent from ST.

In Kathua district, Kathua North and Kathua South are the two new names, one of them is a brand new addition.

In Jammu district, new title names of the reorganised constituencies include Jammu East, Jammu West, Jammu North, Jammu South, Khour and Bahu. Nagrota is Bhalwal Nagrota.

Reorganised Segments

The major two cities of Srinagar and Jammu have not got any new seat. Jammu continues to have 11 and Srinagar eight. While reorganising these segments, however, a lot of changes have taken place.

Hazratabal will now comprise of Srinagar (north) tehsil. Khanyar assembly segment will have Khanyar tehsil excluding areas of SR Gunj, and Brari Nambal.

South Srinagar constituency will comprise of Srinagar (South) tehsil excluding areas of Sonawar, Shivpora, Kursu Padshahinagh, Nursinghgrah, and Barzaulla. But it will include SR Gunj, and Brari Nambal (parts of Khanyar tehsil).

Sonwar segment will comprise of tehsil Panthachowk and areas of Sonawar, Shivpora, Kursoo Padshahibagh, Nurshingh and Barzula, which are parts of Srnagar (South) tehsil.

Chanpora will be coterminous with Chanpora tehsil.

Zoonimar constituency will comprise of Eidgah tehsil parts (Bachpora, Umerjeer, Zoonimar, Awanta Bhawan, Baghat Shouru and Anchar.)

Eidgah will comprise of the Eidgah tehsil excluding the areas added to Zoonimar constituency. It essentially means, Eidgah tehsil now has two constituencies.

This leaves Shalteng Central to be co-terminus with Shalteng tehsil.

Almost the same situation exists in some other constituencies. Handwara in Kupwara district will now comprise of Vilgam, Drugmula, Zachaldara, Taratpor, and Ramhal tehsils parts including  Bakihakhar, Handawar, Shogpora, Wadipora, Sirjpora, Badkote and Machopira.

Langate segment will comprise of Qaziabad Kralgund, Langate and Qalamabad tehsils, excluding Handwara tehsil parts annexed with Handwara segment.

Sopore will get Dangerpora tehsil area as well.

Tangmarg constituency will comprise of three tehsils – Tangmarg, Wagoora, Kreeri and Khoi.

Kunzar will have two tehsils of Kawarhama and Kunzar tehsil and Wanigam Payeen, Tilgam, Tapper, and Hamray from Pattan tehsil. This will leave Pattan constituency to comproise of Singhpota tehsil and Pattan tehsil without Wanigam Payeen, Tilgam, Tappar and Hamray.

Down south, the Dooru constituency will have tehsils of Dooru, Shababad Bala in addition to Behie, Oli Bamdoora, Akingam, Sangam, and Nagam from Kokernag tehsil.

The main Anantnag constituency will have Anatnag tehsil excluding Khanabal, Rohu, Uranhal, LG Pora, Kandi Pahari, KG Raina, Nipora, Hardow Sichaen, Kamad, Sahibabad, and Aimoo.

Bijebhara will be co-terminus with Bijebhara tehsil.

Pahalgam will comprise three teshils – Pahalgam, Sallar and Sringufwara.

Though no change was reported in Budgam as far as names are concerned, however, Chadoora and Chrar-e-Sharief have seen a lot of area reshuffling. In Bandipore where numerically nothing has changed, Safapora, part of Sonawari constituency, has been added to Ganderbal constituency while Ajas, presently part of Bandipora constituency, has been given to Sonawari. Reports suggest the same area reshuffle has taken place in most of the constituencies in Shopian and Pulwama districts.

Lok Sabha

The Delimitation Commission has also redrawn the Lok Sabha segments across Jammu and Kashmir. Before 2019, Jammu and Kashmir had six seats in Lok Sabha. After the erstwhile state was reorganised one berth that falls in Ladakh region left only five in Jammu and Kashmir – three in Jammu and two in Jammu.

Now the Commission has redrawn all the five seats. Now all the five Lok Sabha seats will have 18 assembly segments each.

However, what is interesting is that parts of Kashmir has been annexed with Rajouri and Poonch that has been rendered surplus while creating a homogenous Jammu seat. The three Kashmir seats had followed the age-old wisdom of north, south and central Kashmir, Now part of south Kashmir is part of the Rajouri seat despite the fact that they lack a road link as it has to pass through Shopian, part of Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.  It is Anantnag berth that has been literally defaced. Interestingly, part of Rajouri is also part of the Jammu Lok Sabha seat along with parts of Reasi.

While Srinagar and Baramulla berths will not matter by the changes impacted by the Commission, it is the Anantnag-Rajouri seat that is interesting. While geographically it might be half of the Jammu and Kashmir, it comprises Kulgam, Anantnag, one berth of Shopian and Rajouri and Poonch.

Reactions

Political parties say they are studying the recommendations. So far, only National Conference has come out and “summarily rejected” the recommendations by the Commission. The Associate Members have been asked to file their objections by February 14, 2022.

NC said they have already raised questions over the legality of the Commission. The party, in its objections, had termed the Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir Act as “Constitutionally suspect” and questioned the recommendations of the delimitation panel especially its rationale behind increasing six seats in the Jammu division as against one in the Kashmir region.

“This whole exercise seems to be an exercise in disruption,” a spokesman of the People Conference said. “The Commission’s refusal to change its earlier assertions is least surprising. To add salt to the wounds of the Kashmiris, we have a new wondrous invention in the form of a parliamentary constituency invented by merging two regions, south Kashmir and Rajouri. The inhabitants of these two regions have totally different aspirations, problems and challenges.”

PAGD spokesman and 4-times Communist lawmaker, M Yousuf Tarigami said: “There is a general feeling that the Commission’s recommendations are in line with the current ruling dispensation.”

Congress leader, Tariq Hameed Karra termed the proposal as “a very successful exercise of pitting people against each other on religious and ethnic lines”. He said it was a “nefarious design of disempowering a particular region”.

(This report has added information than what it carried when it was published Saturday last)

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