Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar on March 28 justified the delimitation exercise to be carried out in Assam based on the 2001 census and said that the exercise would be carried out strictly based on the constitutional and legal provisions.
Many political parties of the state, including Congress and TMC, have questioned the poll panel why instead of taking the 2011 Census, the ECI has decided to carry out the exercise based on the 2001 Census.
“We have to say that the exercise will be carried out strictly based on the constitutional and legal provisions,” Kumar said quoting several sections of the Representation of the People’s Act, 1950
As regards NRC updating and delimitation, Kumar said, “The two issues are different and there is no legal bar in carrying out two processes simultaneously.”
“There is no legal sequencing which law provides. The NRC and delimitation of constituencies are two legally distinct activities not having a legal bar. They are carried out under different legislative frameworks,” the CEC also said.
Responding to another point about why the Delimitation Commission was not constituted to conduct the exercise in the state, the CEC said the Commission is going to conduct the exercise in Assam under the provisions of the Delimitation Act in pursuance of the request received from the Ministry of Law and Justice in December last year. Delimitation falls under section *A of the Representation of the People’s Act 1950.
“Another point was raised when delimitation was stopped in 2008, why it has been started all of a sudden, and when delimitation is due in 2026, why it is being carried out now. These suggestions are competing and conflicting claims, having people on both sides of the claim,” Kumar said.
“126 assembly seats and 14 parliamentary seats will remain the same. We have given time by extending the date to April 15 and during that time anybody can give their suggestion to the ECI. We will publish a draft and will give one-month time to take further suggestions on it” Kumar said.
Rubbishing the allegations of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) Bhupen Kumar Bora that the delimitation is a “match-fixing” with BJP, the CEC said the ECI never on the diktat of anyone.
“It’s not new for us. We have to hear such words. It is never possible to dictate anything to us. There is no point of fixation. Because first disclosure was done and then we took suggestions before the publication of the draft,” he said.
Kumar also said that the full Commission had decided to discuss with the stakeholders before the publication of the draft of the delimitation exercise.
“We held discussions with nine recognised and state political parties and other organisations in the last two days. We also met around 60 civil groups and organisations. We will try to accommodate all suggestions of the political parties and organisations in the delimitation exercise,” the CEC said.
Those who participated in the exercise included the TMC, BJP, CPI, CPI(M), NCP, Asom Gana Parishad, AIDUF, Bodoland People’s Front, United People’s Party Liberal, and three more registered parties, Assam Jatiya Parishad, Lok Raksha Party and Raijor Dal.
The process of the delimitation exercise was started in December last year. It was in pursuance of the request received from the Union Ministry of Law and Justice. Delimitation falls under Section 8A of the Re Representation of the People Act, 1950.
Under the provisions of the Delimitation Act of 1972, the last delimitation of constituencies in the state was done based on census figures in 1971 by the then Delimitation Commission in 1976.