News: India’s electoral democracy is going to observe the delimitation of the constituencies for the Lok Sabha. This will be based on the population figures returned by the next decennial Census post 2026.
Arrangements made in the Constitution of India
Article 82 of the Constitution of India provided for a periodic, Census-linked re-arrangement of constituencies to make the representation in Parliament tenable.
History of India as Bharat
India’s foundation for the Bharat that is mentioned in Article 1 of our Constitution can be traced back in the history of India.
North India has often been referred to as Upper India. North India always had the upper hand in the affairs of the nation, of being bigger, and more populous. The nation’s capital has always been in the North. These things reinforced the perceived image of India’s north as India’s political summit.
The Indian National Congress (INC) always kept India’s regions at equal front and symmetry. For example, It conducted its annual session in South India vis-à-vis at Bombay (1885), Madras (1887), Amaravati/Amraoti (1897), Coconada (1923), Belgaum (1924), and Avadi,Madras (1955) among others.
The All-India Kisan Sabha, the peasant wing of the Communist Party of India also conducted its sessions very pointedly in southern venues as much as in northern. For example, at Palasa (in 1940), and at Srikakulam.
What are/may be the issues in India’ electoral representation?
The 543 Members of Parliaments (MPs) represents a vastly increased population in the Lok Sabha. If there is a high number of people per constituency, then each voter yields a lower impact on parliamentary representation.
Issues in case of re-arrangement of constituencies post-2026
The delimitation will give more MPs to the States/UTs having greater population growth, and will give less MPs to the state/UTs having low population growth.
For example, according to the projections made by the Technical Group formed by the National Commission on Population for 2011-36, the share of the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan would increase in India’s total population. Whereas, the share of the states of Tamil Nadu, undivided Andhra, Kerala and West Bengal will see decline in India’s Population in 2026.
The delimitation will inevitably lead to a reduced representation for States that have managed to stabilise their populations, and to a higher representation for States that have not stabilised their populations.
What are the alternatives?
One, the government can go on for another freeze until all States have achieved population stabilisation. [Note: To solve this anomaly, the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution was enacted to cause delimitation freeze in 1976 and same was extended to 2026 through the 84th Amendment]
Two, the demographic and statistical experts can devise a mathematical model along the lines of the ‘Cambridge Compromise’ used for the apportionment of the seats of the European Parliament between the member-states. The formula needs to be customised for our needs.
India cannot afford a tension on the north-south front. Therefore, the upperness syndrome of the past should not come back in the guise of delimitation.
At present, the most important thing is that India needs to limit its population, not representation. The southern States or the population-stabilising States of India continue to enrich our legislative and parliamentary processes.
Source: The post is based on an article “Delimitation fallout needs no political forecasting” published in the “The Hindu” on 19th May 2022.