Election Commission of India receives 467 suggestions and objections over the proposed delimitation exercise in Assam

Politicians, citizens alike express concerns over the Assam's Delimitation Draft.

In response to the new draft proposal for constituency delimitation, the Election Commission has received an overwhelming response from the public in Assam. A total of 467 suggestions and objections have been submitted from various stakeholders across 31 districts in the state. The draft notification, which was published by the Election Commission on June 20, 2023 and it has resulted in receiving widespread response and criticism. Earlier in June, the proposal had seen a huge number of protests and demonstrations by various parties and organisations in Assam.

Among the districts of Assam Kokrajhar has witnessed 12 suggestions and objections from the public. Dr. Dinanath Basumatary, the Working President of the All Bodo Senior Citizens Forum, and others have spoken of the importance of preserving the reservations for Scheduled Tribes in Hill Areas and Legislative Assembly Constituencies as per the existing constitutional provisions. Their plea is to maintain the status quo of Article 330(1) I and 332, which ensure ST reservations in these areas. Concerns were also raised about the adjustment of six Assembly Constituencies under the Bodoland Territorial Council area with the non-sixth Scheduled Hill Areas named Darrang. Furthermore, a demand was made to allocate two seats in the Hill Areas under the Bodoland and Territorial Council Area, specifically in Kokrajhar (ST) and Udalguri (ST).

In South Salmara District, Mostaq Mohammed Moksedur Hassan, the President of the Aam Admi Party, has requested a correction in the proposed 9-Mankachar constituency and 11-South Salmara constituency. The suggestion is to align the proposed constituencies within three already existing assembly constituencies, namely Mankachar with existing Mankachar Block and Fekamari Block (Part), South Salmara AC with existing South Salmara Block and Fekamari Block (Part), and Bahir Salmara AC with Bisring Jarua Block and Jamadarhat Block.

Goalpara District has witnessed 20 suggestions from the public. Representatives of the Kamarpota Rajah Gaon Unnyar Committee, including Sri Mahananda Dev Sarmah, have requested the retention of Kamarpota village in Dudhnoi AC (ST) instead of Goalpara East constituency. Their aim is to ensure better representation for the community. Dhubri District also received 17 suggestions and objections, with one key request being the retention of Hatipota-Pt.II village in the 27-East Bilasipara AC instead of Mankachar AC.

Apart from public engagement, several political parties have actively participated in the delimitation process. Notably, six political parties, including the Lok Janashakti Party, Assam TMC, and United Opposition Forum, have submitted their suggestions and objections. On the other hand, the Assam TMC has expressed concerns about the ground reality, people’s sentiment, historical background, and geographical compactness. They have urged the Election Commission to put the draft proposal on hold and conduct the exercise based on the 2026 census. The United Opposition Forum has sought clarification on the use of the 2001 census instead of the available 2011 census and has suggested more convenient geographical shapes for the proposed new constituencies. They have also requested that the exercise be deferred until the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in respect of Assam is finalised.

Bhupen Kumar Borah, President of the United Opposition Forum, which includes Assam TMC, has raised concerns regarding the delimitation process. He has argued that the Election Commission has overlooked the ground reality, emotions, sentiments of the people, historical background of certain constituencies, and geographical compactness of the Assembly Constituencies. The United Opposition Forum has called on the Election Commission to suspend the draft proposal of delimitation and conduct the exercise based on the 2026 census.

Earlier this month, the Congress had also voiced its concerns on the draft bill. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge stated at a press event on July 7, 2023, that “The delimitation exercise in Assam needs wider acceptance and consensus within the political spectrum.” The press event was organised to deliver the memorandum to the ECI.

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