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Trifurcation of Jalukbari saddens Himanta 

Political parties slam EC over plan to realign constituencies 

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GUWAHATI, June 21 (PTI): A day after the Election Commission published draft delimitation proposals for assembly and parliamentary seats in Assam, the ruling alliance and opposition parties on Wednesday criticised the plan to realign constituencies.

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Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed sadness over trifurcation of his Jalukbari constituency, while the opposition slammed the EC for acting as “an extended arm of BJP” under a “conspiracy to safeguard” the vote bank of the saffron party.

The poll panel on Tuesday 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 also has seven Rajya Sabha seats.

As per the draft, the assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Castes are increased from 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 commission has also planned to alter the geographical boundaries of most of the constituencies, both assembly and the Lok Sabha, while eliminating some seats and creating a few new ones.

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“The draft delimitation published by ECI stipulates that the current Jalukbari constituency, which I have represented since 2001, will no longer exist as it has been divided into three parts. I am feeling very saddened by this news. However, I welcome the draft paper as it accurately reflects the sentiments of Assam,” Sarma said in a tweet.

He later told reporters that with implementation of the proposals, Assam will be “politically saved” with interests of indigenous communities protected for the future.

Assam Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah questioned the central election agency for hurriedly publishing the draft when the matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court.

“Some eminent citizens moved the Hon’ble SC, and the SC has given 25th July’2023 as the date for final hearing. Therefore, while the matter is sub judice, it is astonishing — and a direct affront to the Hon’ble SC — that the ECI have come out with a draft Delimitation document without waiting for the SC judgement,” he tweeted.

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Borah said the state Congress never opposed the delimitation exercise in-principle, but it had on January 1 this year met EC officials in Delhi and asked for clarification on various aspects.

“However, they failed to give us a reply… Doesn’t this show that the EC is acting like an extended arm of the BJP?” he said.

Ruling alliance Asom Gana Parishad’s Prodip Hazarika strongly opposed the draft proposal, which eliminated his constituency Amguri in Upper Assam.

“Amguri has historical importance and we cannot accept complete deletion of the constituency. This cannot be accepted at all. We will protest this move when the EC members visit Assam next month,” he said.

Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar and election commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel are slated to visit Assam in July for a public hearing on the draft proposal.

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) also took umbrage over the EC decision, with its chief and Dhubri Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal alleging that the draft was prepared as per the “BJP’s planning”.

“The plan is to eliminate the AIUDF from Assam’s scene. It will benefit both BJP and Congress. We will meet the EC officials and oppose the proposals. We will discuss with legal experts on the necessary steps,” he said.

AIUDF organisational general secretary and MLA Aminul Islam said the last delimitation in Assam took place in 1976 on the basis of the 1971 census.

“Now it’s 2023 and the delimitation is taking place on the basis of the 2001 census. It means a gap of more than 20 years. Why not take the 2011 census? Why is this exercise being done mid-term?

“In 2026, delimitation will happen across the country. The assembly and parliamentary constituencies will increase. Why not do it then? If it does not take place in 2026, Assam will be deprived of getting more seats,” he said.

Islam also alleged that there are a lot of anomalies in the draft proposal, as no logic has been given for increasing the number of SC and ST seats.

“The seat alterations are politically motivated decisions. Upper Assam has not seen any major changes. Most of the changes have been implemented in Lower and Middle Assam, where there is a strong Muslim population base. The main attempt has been to reduce the number of Muslim majority seats,” he said.

Raijor Dal MLA Akhil Gogoi, too, slammed the draft document and alleged that it has been prepared on the basis of the “BJP’s idea”.

“The delimitation has been done by altering demographics of the constituencies in order to suit the BJP’s needs. The saffron party’s draft report and EC’s one are almost the same. The increased ST seats will give space to Bengali Hindus, not the indigenous people,” he claimed.

Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) president Lurinjyoti Gogoi said the draft proposal is “very unfortunate and conspiratory”, as the party had told the EC that carrying out delimitation on the basis of the 2001 census “will finish indigenous communities” of Assam.

EC officials had visited Assam on March 26-28 and held interactions with political parties, public representatives, civil society members, social organisations 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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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttp://www.thehillstimes.in
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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