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Assam Delimitation: Protests Against Abolition, Non-Reservation Of Assembly Constituents

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GUWAHATI, Aug 12 (PTI): Protests were staged in Assam’s Sivasagar district on Saturday against the final delimitation report for assembly and parliamentary constituencies of the state with the agitators demanding restoration of old seats.

Some protestors stripped off their shirts to register their objection to the final delimitation report, while a Tiwa organisation voiced its opposition to it claiming that its demand for reservation of Morigaon seat has gone unheeded.

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The final report, which was published on Friday, retained the number of assembly constituencies in the state at 126 and Lok Sabha seats at 14. However, it revised the nomenclature of one parliamentary and 19 assembly constituencies as mentioned in the draft notification.

The EC had carried out the delimitation exercise.

According to an EC statement, 19 assembly and two Lok Sabha constituencies have been reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs), while nine assembly and one Lok Sabha constituencies have been reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs).

The resentment against the final report was due to the non-reservation of Morigaon assembly constituency, non-acceptance of the demand for keeping intact Lahowal and Amguri assembly constituency in Sivasagar district and inclusion of areas of Sivasagar under adjoining districts.

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Local people and organisations staged protests against the decision at Amguri town and raised slogans against chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and local MLA Pradip Hazarika of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of the ruling BJP-led coalition government in the state.

As the police prevented the protestors from burning effigies of Sarma and Hazarika, they stripped off their shirts to register their objection to the final delimitation report.

Opposition Raijor Dal activists too protested against the delimitation final report near Sivasagar town, blocking the national highway for some time.

Raijor Dal president and Sivasagar MLA Akhil Gogoi maintained that the final EC order is subject to the outcome of a petition by several political parties before the Supreme Court against the entire delimitation exercise.

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The All Tiwa Students Association voiced its protest against non-reservation of Morigaon assembly constituency for STs. “We had submitted before the state government and the EC with evidence why Morigaon should be reserved for STs. But our demand has gone unheeded. We are forced to think that the government does not consider the Tiwas as indigenous people,” it said.

Opposition parties criticised the final delimitation report and termed it as a ploy by the ruling BJP to safeguard its political future soon after it was published. They also maintained that the EC has failed to address the objections placed before it by the political parties as well as individuals and other organisations.

Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that the final notification has accepted some of the suggestions placed by the state government in line with the demands of people.

All assembly and parliamentary constituencies in the state were redrawn based on the 2001 census. The last delimitation exercise in Assam took place in 1976 on the basis of the 1971 Census. The EC had on June 20 notified the draft delimitation document with the full bench of the poll panel visiting Guwahati over three days from July 19 to hear objections and demands of political parties, organisations and individuals.

An EC team had visited Assam on March 26-28 and interacted with political parties, public representatives, civil society members, social organisations, members of the public and officers regarding the delimitation exercise before coming out with the draft.

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