Assam Delimitation Draft

Assam Delimitation Draft

News: Election Commission (EC) has released a draft delimitation document for Assam, proposing a change in boundaries of several Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies of the state.

What is Delimitation?
• Delimitation refers to the process of demarcation of the boundaries of parliamentary or assembly constituencies. This exercise is carried out after every census, by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders are legally binding and cannot be questioned before any court.
• Delimitation is also responsible for reservation of seats for SC and ST communities in state assembly or the Lok Sabha.
• According to Article 82 of the Constitution, Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after Census that is held every 10 years.

What is the need for delimitation in Assam now?
• Assam currently has 14 Lok Sabha, 126 Assembly constituencies.
• The last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was done in 1976 on the basis of the 1971 Census. While the delimitation process was done in the rest of the country in 2008, it was deferred in Assam (and some other NE states) citing security concerns of the time.
• A 2020 notification from the Law Ministry officially revived the exercise in Assam. Following that, in December 2022 the EC announced that it would initiate the Delimitation exercise.

What are the proposals?
• While the number of seats is being retained, the EC has proposed not just changes in geographical boundaries, but also an increase in the number of reserved constituencies for STs and SCs.
• Districts with autonomous councils (administered under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution) get more seats.
• Change in nomenclature - Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency now named ‘Kaziranga’

Why are they facing criticism?
• The state’s Bengali-origin Muslim community has opposed this draft, alleging that it deprives them politically. They have alleged that constituencies have been shaped in such a manner that minority areas have been mixed with majority [Hindu] populations.
• Opposition parties had raised concerns about the use of 2001 Census data instead of the more recent 2011 Census records for delimitation.
• However, there are Supporters of the proposals as well. For example, groups from the Bodo Territorial Council and Karbi Anglong district have hailed the proposal because it secures at least 102 constituencies for the “indigenous” people.

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