12 of proposed 43 Assembly seats in Jammu likely to be reserved, only 31 to be Open
Kashmir may have only four reserved constituencies
Delimitation Comm to make formal announcement
JAMMU, Dec 26: As many as 12 out of proposed 43 Assembly constituencies of Jammu region are likely to be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes leaving only 31 Open seats in the region while among 47 segments proposed for Kashmir, only four might be reserved.
“As there is virtually no population of Scheduled Castes in Kashmir division, all seven seats reserved for the SCs will fall in Jammu region. Population of Scheduled Tribes is also slightly more in Jammu as compared to Kashmir and since the Delimitation Commission has fixed population as criteria for reservation of constituencies, five ST seats are likely to be reserved in Jammu and four in Kashmir division,” reliable sources told the Excelsior.
In its meeting on December 20, the Delimitation Commission had briefed the Associate Members that seats for both SCs and STs will be reserved taking population of the constituencies into account. However, the segments which were reserved for the SCs in last Assembly will be de-reserved.
The Delimitation Commission is yet to announce Assembly constituencies which will be reserved for SCs and STs in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. The Panel is likely to make formal announcement in the draft report
In the previous Assembly, seven seats reserved for SCs include Chhamb, Domana and RS Pura in Jammu district, Hiranagar in Kathua district, Chenani in Udhampur district, Samba and Ramban.
“All these seats are likely to be de-reserved,” sources said.
As far as nine seats to be reserved for Scheduled Tribes are concerned, their population is around 60 percent in Jammu division and 40 percent in Kashmir valley.
In Jammu region, majority of ST population is confined to twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri which was evident from the fact that in 2014 Assembly elections, which were last to be held in Jammu and Kashmir so far, five out of seven MLAs were STs including Javed Rana (Mendhar), Choudhary Akram (Surankote), Choudhary Zulfkar (Darhal), Choudhary Qamar (Rajouri) and Abdul Ghani Kohli (Kalakote). Two of them–Qamar and Zulfkar then belonged to PDP while Javed Rana, Abdul Ghani Kohli and Choudhary Akram were affiliated with NC, BJP and Congress respectively.
However, there are many other segments also in Jammu division where the STs have considerable population.
While seven SC seats are certain to be reserved in Jammu and five of STs if population is taken as sole criteria for reservation, a total of 12 Assembly constituencies will be reserved in Jammu division leaving 31 Open seats only.
Kashmir will, however, have 43 Open seats if four segments are reserved for STs.
The STs have sizeable population in Kangan, Pahalgam, Kokernag and Bandipora Assembly constituencies in the Valley.
There were reports that the Central Government was considering reservation of two seats for Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley but there has been no official word on this as yet.
A total of 16 seats have so far been reserved in the Legislative Assembly–nine for STs and seven for SCs leaving 74 Open seats. Over and above 90, there will be two seats reserved for the Women, which was case in the last Assembly as well.
Reserved seats had to be rotated after every two terms. However, in Jammu and Kashmir, seven seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes were not rotated for four terms including 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014 elections. The seats will be rotated now by the Delimitation Commission.
There was, no reservation to the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly earlier. The reservation to STs was granted by the BJP Government at the Centre under Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act after abrogation of special status of erstwhile State and its bifurcation into the two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
The Delimitation Commission has invited suggestions on its proposals for increasing six Assembly seats in Jammu and one in Kashmir from the Associate Members till December 31.