NEW DELHI: Is the Centre planning to increase Lok Sabha seats to over 1,000 before 2024? A tweet by Congress MP Manish Tewari citing ‘credible inputs’ from BJP MPs caught a lot of eyeballs.
While some BJP MPs denied having knowledge of this, leaders of other political parties said this has been doing the rounds for a while. They felt such a step should not be taken without wider public consultation.
“I am reliably informed by Parliamentary colleagues in BJP that there is a proposal to increase the strength of Lok Sabha to 1,000 or more before 2024. New Parliament Chamber being constructed as a 1000 seater. Before this is done there should be a serious public consultation,” tweeted Tewari, a former Union Cabinet minister, early this week.
Following this, party colleague and Congress MP from Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga, Karti Chidambaram called for a public debate. “A large country like ours needs more directly elected representatives. But if the increase is based on population, it will further diminish the representation of southern states, that will not be acceptable,” he tweeted.
The Congress Data Analytics Department under Praveen Chakravarty has done some modelling based on how dynamics will change if seats are increased based on population. The modelling with projected increase in Lok Sabha seats to 1,200 from 543 shows southern states losing out, while higher population density states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh would register gains. Maharashtra and Gujarat also gain in numbers. Karnataka is the only southern state that will see an increase. The modelling shows that the share of total seats will go down in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Odisha.
D Raja, CPI general secretary, said this buzz about the Modi government increasing the number of Lok Sabha seats has been doing the rounds for some time, but questioned the criteria for such changes. “If it is planned to be done on the basis of population, southern states would suffer and this has happened in the past also,” said Raja.
However, a Union minister dismissed Tewari’s claim and said he is indulging in speculation. “He may have been speculating in the context of the women’s reservation bill which is still pending. There is no proposal before the government as of now to increase the capacity of the Lok Sabha,” the minister said, requesting anonymity. Election Commission officials said they are not aware of this.