GUWAHATI: The Centre’s move to carry out an exercise for delimitation of constituencies in Assam – besides Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur – has met with opposition.
While the opposition parties in Assam believe the exercise will create “complications” given that the entire process of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is yet to be completed, some groups questioned the timing of it in the light of Assembly elections due early next year.
More than a decade ago, the delimitation exercise was stalled in Assam following opposition by then Congress government and some groups which had insisted on the NRC’s updation first.
Two days ago, the Law Ministry in an order had said, “It appears the circumstances that led to the deferring of the delimitation exercise” in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland “have ceased to exist and the delimitation of the constituencies as envisaged under the Delimitation Act, 2002 could be carried out now”.
But the Congress said the situation was no different today.
“The delimitation exercise will surely create complications as the entire NRC process is yet to be complicated. We all know many Indians were left out of the process while there are allegations of foreigners’ being included in the list,” Congress leader Debabrata Saikia said.
Minority-based All India United Democratic Front said it would soon discuss the matter.
“We suspect that the ruling parties are trying to gain some political advantage ahead of Assembly elections through this exercise,” party spokesman Aminul Islam said.
The Prabajan Virodhi Manch, a group fighting against illegal migration, also expressed opposition.
“A delimitation exercise restores parity or equality between constituencies by either increasing the number of constituencies or re-drawing the boundaries the existing constituencies by keeping the total number of constituencies intact. In either situation, particularly in Assam, the indigenous will stand to lose as the indigenous dominated constituencies in Middle and Upper Assam have less than half the population/the number of voters than in the migrant dominated constituencies,” advocate Upamanyu Hazarika of the Manch said.
He added: “The exercise being undertaken prior to 2021 elections shows that the BJP-AGP alliance is not confident of retaining the indigenous vote which it got in the earlier election and therefore, reduce the number of seats where the indigenous are in a majority, which will correspondingly reduce the political clout of the indigenous”.
The Asom Jatiatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad, however, said, “We will welcome it if it leads to an increase of constituencies”. At the same time, it asked the BJP not to try to take any advantage out of it.