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NC refuses to participate in delimitation exercise

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Says participating in the commission will be like accepting the events of August 05, 2019, which the NC is unwilling to do

Srinagar, May 29: The National Conference on Friday announced that it will not participate in the delimitation exercise to redraw parliamentary and assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir because the party was unwilling to accept the events of August 05 last year when the special status of the erstwhile state was abrogated.

The Union Law Ministry has constituted the delimitation commission headed by Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai to redraw Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and election commissioners of J&K and the four states are ex-officio members of the commission.

Three National Conference MPs, including party president Farooq Abdullah, had on Tuesday been nominated as Associate Members of the commission which will undertake delimitation in the newly-created union territory of Jammu and Kashmir where the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly is to be increased from 107 to 114, out of which 24 are reserved for Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, meaning in effect the number of assembly seats will go up from 83 to 90.

Rejecting “this process”, the NC said the commission is a product of JK Reorganisation Act 2019, which the party is challenging “in and outside the Hon’ble Supreme Court”.

“Participating in the commission would be tantamount to accepting the events of August 05, 2019 which the NC is unwilling to do,” the party said in a statement.

It added that besides Abdullah, two other party MPs – Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi — will not participate in the commission.

The party maintained that as per the Constitution of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, “the constituencies of J&K were to be delimited in 2026 with the rest of the country. The constituencies in the state were last delimited in the ‘90s.

“Thereafter an amendment was made in the constitution of J&K, and unanimously passed in the state assembly in which all the regional parties, Congress and BJP voted for this amendment to go with the delimitation…in 2026. Therefore the constitution of the delimitation commission is unwarranted,” the statement added.

Apart from three NC parliamentarians, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has nominated 12 other MPs from Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur as Associate Members to assist the commission. The MPs include two union ministers Kiren Rijiju and Jitendra Singh.

Meanwhile, in his first remarks after being named as a member of delimitation commission, NC Member of Parliament, Hasnain Masoodi today said that he can’t be part of anything which he opposed in the Supreme Court.

“Law says MPs of those states and union territories have to be associated members of the commission where delimitation is taking place. There was no consultation with us,” Masoodi was quoted as having said in a news report.

“They nominated us as per the law and now it is for us to decide how we should react. Individually I can’t be part of anything which is questioned and opposed by us before SC,” he added.

Another NC MP Mohammad Akbar Lone said they have been nominated without their consultation. “We have to now decide whether to be part of the commission. As far as NC is concerned, our stand is clear that we won’t be part of any political activity till all political leaders are released,” Lone said.

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