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J&K: Parties Oppose Proposed Bill to Reserve Assembly Seats for Kashmiri Migrants, Refugees

Anees Zargar |
Political parties in the region argued that the BJP is trying to use the proposed reservation bill to reap electoral dividends.

For Representational Use Only (File Image)

Srinagar: The political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have raised concerns over the central government's proposal to amend the J&K Reorganisation Act to allocate reservations for Kashmiri migrants and refugees from West Pakistan in the state Assembly.  

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC) party chief spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to use the proposed reservation bill as a "walking stick to reap election dividends" in the region. 

Sadiq argued that the bill, likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha for approval, is "blind to the ground realities". He, however, claimed they have no issue with the representation being provided to the under-represented communities. 

The NC leader said that the decision should be the prerogative of the elected government and not an un-elected representative from Delhi. 

"The fact that the LG is being authorised to nominate any person is another admission that the BJP is convinced they will lose the next election in J&K and are using the nomination route to try to get a handful of members in the house," he said.  

Sadiq claimed that two to three seats would make no difference to the electoral performance of the BJP and hence should stop hiding behind the election commission and the LG. 

He added that the party has already rejected the J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019 and that the entire process is currently under judicial scrutiny in the highest court of the country. 

"It raises concerns about how the government can proceed with a decision while its parent Act is still being debated in the Supreme Court. Such decisions go against constitutional propriety as it preempts the SC decision. Ideally, such a decision should have been left to a democratically elected government," he said.

Like NC, the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) also expressed its concerns regarding the proposed bill, which empowers the LG to nominate members to the State Legislature without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.

In a statement issued by JKPC spokesperson Adnan Mir, the party said they are also not against the plan to give representation to the underrepresented sections of society but argued that the nomination process should be carried out on the advice of the Council of Ministers to ensure fair representation and uphold democratic values in the region.

The Central government's proposed bill, Mir pointed out, appears to equip the LG with the sole authority to nominate members to the State Legislature of J&K, bypassing the constitutional requirement of seeking advice. 

"In a parliamentary democracy, it is fundamental that the President, Governor, or the LG acts on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. This principle extends to the nomination of members to the Lok Sabha or any State Legislature. The President, Governor, or the LG cannot exercise their prerogative without seeking the advice of the Council of Ministers," he said.

Mir added that the PC believes this nomination process could potentially have an "unfair impact" on the public mandate and "undermine the democratic principles and people's choices."

"By allowing selective nominations by the LG, the government could potentially alter the majority in the Legislature into a minority, thus subverting the democratic will of the people. This undemocratic tactic not only undermines the essence of our democratic structure but also poses a severe threat to the basic tenets of our Constitution," he said.

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