In the next 10 days, Jammu and Kashmir will lose its representation in the country’s upper house or the Rajya Sabha after their term, as the legislative Assembly that elects RS members stands dissolved in the erstwhile state.
The six-year term of all the four members from Jammu and Kashmir including Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad is expiring in the next few days.
No new member can be elected as legislative Assembly stands dissolved in the erstwhile state, which otherwise would constitute the electoral college for electing the Rajya Sabha members.
Fayaz Ahmad Mir, whose tenure as the Rajya Sabha member will come to an end on February 10, told News 18: “Since there is no Assembly in J&K, there is no way we can elect new members. These seats will fall vacant unless there are elections.”
Mir was elected on the People’s Democratic Party ticket six years ago. “It will be rare for J&K to have no representation in the Rajya Sabha. I am told only once, in the early 90s, we had such a scenario. There won’t be anyone to challenge whatever new law they pass in the House," he added.
Mir said only five Lok Sabha members from J&K, including Dr Farooq Abdullah will be able to voice people’s issues in Parliament.
"I will be speaking in Parliament on 9th February but that will be a thanks-giving speech and nothing else," he said, adding the Parliament is aware of the Rajya Sabha’s omission of representatives from J&K.
In addition to four RS members, J&K had six MPs, including three from the National Conference, in the Lok Sabha. Despite their opposition, the central government had abrogated Article 370 and divided the State into two Union territories.
The Centre has since brought sweeping changes including the crucial land laws that have vacated moratorium for any Indian to buy land in J&K. Earlier under Article 370, only J&K residents had the right to own immobile properties in the former state.
Officials said Azad’s term ends on February 15. The terms of Nazir Laway, a former PDP member, and BJP’s Shamsher Singh Manhas are expiring on February 15 and February 10, respectively.
“The state faced a similar situation in early 1990s, when we had no representatives in the Rajya Sabha as we were directly ruled by the Centre,” an official said.
J&K was placed under Governor’s rule in June 2017 after the BJP pulled down the three-year-old coalition government with the PDP accusing the then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti for soft on separatism and militancy. The Centre wanted militancy to be dealt with a tough hand but realised Mufti’s approach was a tad different.
Following the dismissal of Mufti, the then Governor Satya Pal Malik had suspended the Assembly in November 2017. No elections could be held after that and there seems to be no indication that it would be conducted anytime soon.
There are reports that elections would be held after the Centre effects the delimitation exercise that will reset and enhance the number of Assembly segments. J&K lost four seats to Ladakh after it lost its statehood and is now left with only 83 Assembly seats. Officials say the delimitation panel is likely to add 7 to 9 new Assembly seats. But the immediate concern of the region is that there would be no voice in the Rajya Sabha.