What is the new delimitation exercise by Assam?

Source: The post is based on the article “What is the new delimitation exercise by Assam?published in The Hindu on 3rd January 2023

What is the News?

Assam has re-merged four districts with the ones they were carved out after the Election Commission of India(ECI) notified the initiation of the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the State.

What is Delimitation?

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Why was delimitation in Assam put on hold?

Delimitation panels were set up thrice (1952,1962 and 1972) regularly before the exercise was suspended in 1976 in view of the family planning programmes in the States. 

The last Commission was set up in 2002, but before its exercise was completed in 2008, the delimitation was put on hold.

Several political parties were opposed to delimitation in 2008 as they wanted it to be done only after the updating of the National Register of Citizens(NRC) to weed out “illegal immigrants”.

Why are some political parties critical of delimitation?

The Central government reconstituted the Delimitation Commission for the four north-eastern States and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in 2020. 

The exercise was imminent but Section 8A of the Representation of People Act, 1950, cited by the ECI for initiating delimitation and the use of the 2001 Census data have raised the following questions:

Firstly, Section 8A only allows reorientation and rules out any change in the total number of parliamentary and Assembly constituencies. Hence, what’s the point of delimitation if Assembly seats are not increased.

Secondly, basing the delimitation on the 2001 Census is unjust specifically after the ECI used the 2011 Census for completing the exercise in Jammu and Kashmir where the number of constituencies increased. 

Why does the government see delimitation as Assam’s saviour?

Assam Chief Minister has said that the delimitation can provide the safeguards that the NRC and the Assam Accord of 1985 envisaged to but failed. 

This is because, unlike the unsuccessful NRC, delimitation can save the future of Assam for at least two decades by ensuring the State Assembly is less affected by demographic changes.

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