Union Territories

Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly

It was in 1934 when the first Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir comprising of the Assembly and the Council of Ministers was formed. The Constitution of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was framed on 26 January 1957. Section 46 of the Constitution states that the Legislature will be comprised of the Governor, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly. The strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly was 100 members. The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (Twentieth Amendment) Act of 1988 revised the number of seats in the house and the house was given the permission to accommodate 111 members.

According to section 48 of the State Constitution, 24 seats should be kept vacant in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly for the representatives from that part of the state which is presently occupied by Pakistan. These seats do not get counted within the total strength of the assembly house. The Governor has made the provision of nominating 2 women members, in case there is a lack of adequate women representative in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. The structure of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly is bicameral. Presently there are 89 members in the Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir including the two nominated members.

The assembly followed six years tenure. Now, the tenure has been reduced to 5 years unless there is any prior notice of sooner dissolving. There are two sessions held in a year, one is the Budget and the other is the Monsoon. The Governor of the house is Shri Lt. Gen. (Retd.) S. K. Sinha. The Speaker of the house is Shri Tara Chand. Shri Mohd. Akbar Lone is the Dy. Speaker. Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad is the leader of the House and Shri A. R. Rather is the leader of the opposition. Shri Mohd. Ramjan is the House Secretary.

In the 2002 Assembly Elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference (NC) was voted out. The party was in power for more than 2 decades. The 2002 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Election was held in 4 phases. In the 1996 elections, NC had won 57 seats and in 2002, it was unanimously voted out and could manage only 18 seats. 40-45% of the state population could cast their votes in spite of the several terrorist attacks and immense political turmoil. The phase I turnout was 47.28. The phase II turn out was even more depressing with 42 per cent. Habbakadal in Srinagar recorded the least turnout with 1% and Chrar-e-Sharif experienced the highest turnout of 59 %.

The National Conference won 28 seats, the Congress got 20 seats and the PDP gathered 16 seats. Panther's Party got 4 seats. The CPI (M) got 2 seats whereas the BJP and BSP got one seat each. The Independent gathered 15 seats. The main cause for NC's defeat is believed to be Dr. Farooq Abdullah's wrong decision of handing over the power to his son, Omar Abdullah just 3 months before the assembly poll. Omar Abdullah failed to prove himself an efficient political leader especially when it comes to sense the pulse of this highly politically disturbed state of India. Omar Abdullah was also accused of not taking active part in rallies and campaigns. Omar used to spend more time in New Delhi when he was expected to be in Jammu and Kashmir to handle the local political issues. Omar lost the Ganderbal seat to Qazi Afzal - PDP's candidate.

The performances of the independent candidates and the J&K National Panther's Party (headed by Bhim Singh) seem to be quite significant. 7 independent candidates along with two MLA of the CPI (M) came together to form the Democratic People's Forum (DFP) and declared to offer unconditional support to non-NC dispensation. Together, the PDP and the Congress have 36 seats in the house which was again 8 short of the number required to form a government.

This was followed by the assembly by-elections on 24 April 2006 to fill four seats in the house. The October 2002 elections proved itself a turning point in the political history of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. It became quite clear from the mass participation of the common people in the election that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were truly yearning for a normal and peaceful political state. People realized that normalcy can be regained through the practice of adult franchise and democracy. The Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly is all set to go to the polls in 2008. 87 legislators are to be elected as it has been announced by the Election Commission of India. The voting and counting dates are yet to be finalized.

The political parties which are intended to take part in the coming elections are People's Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC), BJP, Congress, Panthers party and Communist Party of India amongst others. However, BJP, Panthers Party and CPI M are expected to get support in some regional constituencies as they are not popular enough in all the regions.

Even though the Congress is a national party, it does not enjoy support in all the regional levels. A pre-poll alliance between the Congress and PDP is expected. Therefore a direct contest between the PDP-Congress alliance and the National Conference is expected. The NC is working hard to break the alliance before the elections and it will surely be a problem for the party as far as the government formation is concerned.