GUWAHATI, Aug 11 (PTI): Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday claimed that the final report on delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Assam has accepted some of the suggestions placed by the state government in line with the demands of people.
In its final order, the poll panel had kept intact the number of assembly constituencies at 126 and Lok Sabha seats at 14, while revising the nomenclature of one parliamentary and 19 assembly constituencies as mentioned in the draft notification.
According to an ECI statement, 19 assembly and two Lok Sabha constituencies have been reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs). One Lok Sabha and nine assembly constituencies have been reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs).
“The ECI declared the final notification sometime ago. We will have to go through it in detail. We will come with our reaction the day after tomorrow,” Sarma said.
Sarma said the state government had placed before the ECI requests for change in names of some of the constituencies, as demanded by people.
“Some of our requests have been met and some not,” the CM added.
The opposition parties, however, have criticised the final report on delimitation and termed it a ploy by the ruling BJP to safeguard its political future.
They also maintained that the Election Commission of India (ECI), which carried out the process, has failed to address the objections placed before it by the political parties as well as individuals and other organisations.
Leader of opposition in the state assembly, Debabrata Saikia, said the Congress has been protesting the way in which the delimitation exercise was carried out.
“There has not been an equitable distribution of population in the process. The matter is being contested in the Supreme Court also. We will have to wait and watch what the ECI submits before the apex court,” he said.
Citing the example of his own Nazira constituency, the Congress leader said, “An area with a sizeable Muslim population from my constituency has been taken away. We believe this is a political tactic.”
“The Congress party, in principle, is not opposed to the delimitation process. But we have an objection to the process in which it was done. We had repeatedly urged the ECI and the government to first address the issues raised by people and then go forward with the process,” deputy leader of opposition in state assembly Rakibul Hussain said.
Hussain added that the Congress and its conglomerate of 11 other anti-BJP parties have already geared up to fight the delimitation politically.
Raijor Dal working president Bhasco De Saikia claimed that the ECI has accepted only some demands for changes in names of constituencies but the core issues raised were ignored.
“Political parties and others had raised before the ECI that boundaries of constituencies where indigenous voters played a decisive role were proposed to be changed. But such demands were not addressed in the final notification.
“It has been proven that the ECI is not a neutral body anymore. We had expected that it would wait for the Supreme Court case before publishing the final notification, but it didn’t even wait for it,” he added.
Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) president Lurinjyoti Gogoi claimed that the constituencies have been re-drawn only with the motive to ensure victory for BJP candidates.
“The BJP knows that it will lose the next year’s election. To safeguard its vote bank, it has carried out this delimitation process,” he said.
Gogoi said the party will wait for the apex court’s verdict in the case and depending on the outcome, it will build up people’s movement against it.
All assembly and parliamentary constituencies in the state were delimited (redrawn) based on the 2001 Census.
The last delimitation exercise in Assam took place in 1976 on the basis of the 1971 Census.
Many political parties have knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court against the entire delimitation exercise.
The ECI 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 ECI team had earlier visited Assam on March 26-28 and held interactions 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.