Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Reservations over delimitation based on 2001 Census in Assam

The ECI on Tuesday said civil society organisations did not oppose Assam’s delimitation process, but several political parties have expressed reservations over issues like the exercise being done based on 2001 census or not putting it off till 2026 when the next nationwide delimitation is due.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar held discussions with various stakeholders ahead of the delimitation of Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in this North Eastern state during a three-day visit since Sunday. Kumar told a press conference that consultations with the stakeholders will be held again after the draft proposal for delimitation is published, though he refused to assign any timeframe for its notification. He said there will be no change in the number of constituencies in the state in this exercise.
The CEC said nine recognised national and state political parties and various social organisations, numbering a total of over 60, met the ECI team.
Kumar and the two election commissioners, Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel, held talks with state government officials and deputy commissioners among others.
“Everyone wants peace to be maintained and the process to be carried forward. No one was opposed to the process,” he said, sharing the gist of what the civil society organisations had presented before it. Mentioning various points raised by political parties and other organisations, Kumar said delimitation is being done based on the 2001 Census figure as mandated by law.
He said the delimitation process is being resumed in the state after coming to a halt in 2008 as the President rescinded the previous order.
Asked if the exercise will be done again in the state when it is undertaken nationwide in 2026, Kumar said it is “too early” to speak on that as it will be conducted on the 2021 census, which is yet to be done.
He pointed out that the number of constituencies could change in the 2026 delimitation, though there will be no such changes in the ongoing process.
On the possible change in the number of constituencies reserved for SC and ST, he said it is worked out as per their proportion to the total population.
The CEC said requests have been put before the ECI to consider lower population growth rate in upper Assam areas while realigning constituencies and also special consideration for the sixth schedule areas and Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts.
When asked if non-completion of the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) could cause problems in the delimitation process, Kumar said the two activities are carried out under different legislative frameworks.
He said that every section of the community across the state will be considered fairly, within the legal framework and adhering to principles of equity.
Kumar said those who could not present their views before the ECI panel personally can send them through email or submit them through the Chief Electoral Officer or the DCs till April 15.
Taking into consideration all suggestions, the ECI will publish the draft proposal and give one month to the public for their suggestions, after which the panel will once again visit the state for a personal hearing, he added.


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