SRINAGAR: The National Conference is all set to announce its decision to join the delimitation exercise and the final announcement will be made by party chief Dr Farooq Abdullah tomorrow.
Reliable sources said that party General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar chaired two crucial meetings of NC leaders at Nawa-e-Subh on Friday and Saturday. “The leaders discussed the threadbare possibility of participation in the delimitation process. Majority of leaders expressed their willingness to join the exercise stating that valuable suggestions from the NC will help the commission to frame an unbiased report,” sources, privy to the NC deliberations, revealed.
A senior party leader, who was present in the meeting said that there was nothing wrong in participating in the delimitation process. “We have a strong case and our participation will help prevent any sort of injustice. Any increase in the Assembly seats has to meet certain parameters like population, geography and area of the constituency,” he said, wishing not to be named. “In case, Commission goes in the wrong direction, we can at least resist. By staying away, we won’t be able to know what the Commission is upto. We will also ask the members of the Commission what they are up to and what assessment they have done. By asking this, we won’t be committing any crime as there is a freedom of speech guaranteed by the democracy of our country.”
NC General Secretary confirmed that he chaired two back to back meetings of party leaders. “We discussed whether we should participate in the delimitation exercise. There is a consensus within the party and we will brief our party chief Dr Farooq sahab tomorrow (Sunday) about the same. After that, he will take the final call,” Sagar said.
The J&K LG Manoj Sinha had recently stated that participation of political parties in the delimitation process will help in ensuring timely elections and at the end the move will also help put up a good assembly.
It may be recalled that NC had publicly stated that it wouldn’t participate in the delimitation exercise as the move would “tantamount to accepting the events of 5th August 2019”—when the special status of the erstwhile state was abrogated.” However, some voices started emerging within the party slowly that supported participation in the process which later converted into a “majority view.” Sources in NC said that even those who were earlier opposing any sort of participation in the commission changed their minds and advocated “there was no harm in joining the process.”
NC vice-president Omar Abdullah had recently told reporters that the party had authorized Dr Farooq to take a call on whether to participate in the delimitation process. However, sources said the meetings chaired by Sagar was a move to build a consensus over the issue to avoid “any sort of internal bickering within the party at this crucial stage.”
Dr Farooq, who on June 24 attended an All Party Meeting (APM) in New Delhi, told reporters in Srinagar that the meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere and “it was a first step towards starting a fresh political process in J&K.”
Sources said that one of the major reasons why NC seems to have softened its stand owing to many reasons and one of the primary reasons is that at this crucial juncture the party doesn’t seem to annoy New Delhi by staying away from the delimitation process. Soon after the APM on June 24, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had tweeted: “The future of Jammu and Kashmir was discussed and the delimitation exercise and peaceful elections are important milestones in restoring statehood as promised in parliament.”
Sources in NC said that after getting a briefing from party General Secretary Sagar over the issue, Dr Farooq will make the party’s decision public late Sunday afternoon. The delimitation commission will arrive in J&K on a three-day visit from July 6 and meet all the political leaders and civil society members to get their feedback over re-drawing the boundaries of assembly constituencies in the J&K UT—(KNO)