Assam delimitation exercise: AIUDF moves SC against draft proposal

Protesting against the draft delimitation proposal for Assembly and Parliamentary seats in Assam, opposition All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) on Sunday said it has filed a case in the Supreme Court against the exercise.

Addressing a press conference here, AIUDF organisational general secretary and MLA Aminul Islam said the Election Commission of India (ECI) carried out the exercise instead of a Delimitation Commission because of amendments in relevant Acts in 2008 by the UPA government.

“We have challenged those amendments which handed over the delimitation power to the ECI. Because of the amendments, ECI can now form guidelines on its own and carry out delimitation without any accountability to anyone,” he added.

Since Independence, delimitation has been carried out by only the Delimitation Commission, not by the ECI and the same should be continued, the AIUDF MLA said.

As per information available on Supreme Court’s e-court services, AIUDF filed a writ petition (Diary No. 28014/2023) against the Government of India on Saturday.

“The draft proposal has been prepared to directly benefit the BJP and RSS so that the saffron camp wins the coming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Assam,” Islam said.

He further alleged that a Cabinet Sub-Committee of the Assam government had submitted a proposal and guidelines to the state’s Chief Electoral Officer, who forwarded the same to the ECI and the central poll body published it as the draft delimitation document.

“Moreover, a nationwide delimitation exercise will take place in 2026. Then what was the need to have it now in Assam? Why has it been done on the basis of the 2001 census? We do not accept this draft proposal,” Islam said.

He alleged that the ECI draft will reduce the number of minority MLAs (representatives of minority-dominated seats) in the Assam Assembly to 20-22 from the existing 31.

The ECI on June 20 notified the draft delimitation document by retaining the number of Assembly seats in Assam at 126 and the Lok Sabha constituencies at 14. The state has seven Rajya Sabha seats.

As per the draft, the Assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Castes are increased to nine from eight and for Scheduled Tribes to 19 from 16. For the Parliamentary constituencies, two have been proposed under the ST category and one for the SC community.

The poll panel has also planned to alter the geographical boundaries of most of the constituencies, both Assembly and Lok Sabha, while eliminating some seats and creating a few new ones.

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Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel are slated to visit Assam to hold a three-day public hearing from July 19 on the draft proposal.

An ECI team had earlier visited Assam on March 26-28 this year and held interactions with political parties, public representatives, civil society members, social organisations, members of the public and officers in the state regarding the delimitation exercise.

In total, representations from 11 political parties and 71 other organisations were received and considered.

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