Assam delimitation: Congress, BJP on the same page; both slam EC over plan to realign constituencies

CM Himanta Biswa Sarma will lose his seat if proposals are implemented. The draft says reserved seats for SC will be increased from 8 to 9 and number of ST seats will be increased from 16 to19

Election Commission of India (photo courtesy: PTI)
Election Commission of India (photo courtesy: PTI)

NH Political Bureau

The ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and the main opposition party, Congress on Wednesday found themselves on the same page in Assam, over the Election Commission’s plan to realign constituencies.

Both parties slammed the poll panel a day after the draft delimitation proposals for assembly and parliamentary seats were made public.

While the Congress attacked the EC for acting as “an extended arm of the BJP” under a “conspiracy to safeguard” the vote bank of the saffron party, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, expressed sadness over the trifurcation of his constituency, Jalukbari.

Sharma will lose his seat If the proposals are implemented.

As per the draft, the assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Castes will increase 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 Lok Sabha, while eliminating some seats and creating a few new ones.

“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,” Sharma wrote on Twitter.

Assam Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah questioned the poll panel’s decision to hurriedly publish 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 the final hearing. Therefore, while the matter is sub judice, it is astonishing — and a direct affront to the Hon’ble SC — that the ECI has come out with a draft Delimitation document without waiting for the SC judgement,” Borah tweeted.

He however said that the Congress never opposed the delimitation exercise in principle.

A delegation of the Congress party on 1 January 2023 had met the EC officials in Delhi, seeking 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?” Borah asked.

The ruling alliance Asom Gana Parishad’s Prodip Hazarika also strongly opposed the draft proposal. His constituency Amguri in Upper Assam will be eliminated in the delimitation.

“Amguri has historical importance and we cannot accept the 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.

With PTI inputs

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