11 opposition parties submit memorandum to poll panel against delimitation in Assam

They claimed that the issues over which the delimitation exercise was deferred in the state earlier have remained unresolved.

Guwahati: Eleven opposition parties in Assam, including the Congress, submitted a memorandum to the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on Saturday against the delimitation process of Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies.

They claimed that the issues over which the delimitation exercise was deferred in the state earlier have remained unresolved.

The memorandum stated that the process was undertaken in the country under the Delimitation Act, 2002, on the basis of 2001 census, but it was met with such widespread opposition in Assam that the exercise was deferred.

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A detailed order for deferring the exercise in Assam was issued by the president on February 8, 2008, noting a few reasons.

Among those was the likelihood of arousing “the sentiments of the people living in the state of Assam due to their apprehension that the ongoing delimitation in many electoral constituencies may result in breakup of affiliation between publics and its representatives, change of boundaries thereof, which may cause alienation of different groups of tribes”.

Representations seeking to defer the exercise until NRC is finalised, a large number of agitational programmes by ethnic organisations, and the likelihood of breach of public order were other reasons for deferring the delimitation process in the state, the memorandum said.

It noted that the president passed an order on February 28, 2020, rescinding the earlier order, and paving the way for the formation of a delimitation commission, which the opposition parties claimed was erroneously constituted.

This commission was challenged in the Supreme Court, which led the Centre to remove the reference of North Eastern states from this term in 2021, and the delimitation commission conducted the exercise only in Jammu and Kashmir, it said.

The opposition parties, in the memorandum, noted that the reasons for the objection to the exercise as raised earlier remained valid till date.

The exercise is being sought to be conducted on the basis of the 2001 census, which was the main point of objection for the people of the state, they maintained.

Noting that the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) is yet to be notified, the memorandum maintained that the government should have sought views from all parties before giving its support to the order of delimitation.

“But that has not been done and the present government and the party in power have acted unilaterally to support a process which has potential to create instability in the state,” the memorandum said.

“In the light of above, we the eleven political parties together raise our voice against the proposed delimitation exercise in the state of Assam,” said the document, signed by leaders of Congress, CPI(M), Raijor Dal, Assam Jatiya Parishad, Jatiya Dal Asom, CPI, NCP, CPI (ML), RJD, JD(U) and TMC.

The full bench of the Election Commission (EC) visited Guwahati in March, during which they held discussions with different stakeholders, including political parties, to take their views on the delimitation process. The Congress had, however, boycotted meeting.

The process for delimitation in the state started on January 1, 2023, as per a notification issued by the EC on December 27 last year.

On December 31, 2022, the Assam Cabinet decided to merge four districts with the ones from which they were carved out. Biswanath was merged with Sonitpur, Hojai with Nagaon, Tamulpur with Baksa and Bajali with Barpeta.

The decisions to merge the districts were taken just a day before the EC’s ban on creating new administrative units in the state came into force.

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